Recorded for Poem-a-Day, May 19, 2017.
About this Poem 

“I do a lot of sewing (clothes). Construction is easy compared to fitting, which is basically math coupled with anticipating how a fabric will behave in 3-D. I’ve probably made a hundred dresses that are perfect on the hanger but don’t fit well enough to wear into the world.”
—Chase Twichell

The Phantoms for Which Clothes Are Designed

Sewing patterns are designed for imaginary
people, based on average measurements
taken in the 1930s by the WPA

and adjusted over the decades by the Industry.

I sew a Misses 14, designed for a woman
5’5” to 5’6”, 36/28/38,

which is to say no one,

so I alter the pattern to fit a phantom of me
instead of a phantom of her.

She doesn’t need any more dresses.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Chase Twichell. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 19, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Chase Twichell. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 19, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Chase Twichell

Chase Twichell

Born in 1950, Chase Twichell is the author of several books of poetry, including Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New and Selected Poems.

by this poet

poem
Don't tell me we're not like plants,
sending out a shoot when we need to,
or spikes, poisonous oils, or flowers.

Come to me but only when I say,
that's how plants announce

the rules of propagation.
Even children know this. You can
see them imitating all the moves

with their bright plastic toys.
So that
poem
Above the blond prairies,
the sky is all color and water.
The future moves
from one part to another.

This is a note
in a tender sequence
that I call love,
trying to include you,
but it is not love.
It is music, or time.

To explain the pleasure I take
in loneliness, I speak of privacy,
but privacy is the house
poem

The clouds’ disintegrating script
spells out the word squander.

Tree shadows lie down in the field.
Clipped to a grass blade’s underside,

a crisp green grasshopper
weighs down the tip,

swaying between birth and death.
I’ll think of him as we clink

glasses with