japonisme: luxe, calme et volupté

29 December 2007

luxe, calme et volupté

WHITE KIMONO

Sleeves of oyster, smoke and pearl,
linings patterned with chrysanthemum flurries,
rippled fields: the import store's

received a shipment of old robes,
cleaned but neither pressed nor sorted,
and the owner's cut the bindings

so the bales of crumpled silks
swell and breathe. It's raining out, off-season,
nearly everything closed,

so Lynda and I spend an hour
overcome by wrinkly luxuries we'd never wear,
even if we could: clouds of--

are they plum blossoms?--
billowing on mauve, thunderheads
of pine mounting a stony slope,

tousled fields of embroidery
in twenty shades of jade:
costumes for some Japanese

midsummer's eve. And there,
against the back wall, a garment
which seems itself an artifact

of dream: tiny gossamer sleeves
like moth wings worrying a midnight lamp,
translucent silk so delicate

it might shatter at the weight
of a breath or glance.
The mere idea of a robe,

a slip of a thing
(even a small shoulder
might rip it apart)

which seems to tremble a little,
in the humid air. The owner--
enjoying our pleasure, this slow afternoon,

in the lush tumble of his wares--
gives us a deal. A struggle, to narrow it
to three: deep blue for Lynda,

lined with a secretive orange splendor
of flowers; a long scholarly gray for me,
severe, slightly pearly, meditative;

a rough raw silk for Wally,
its slubbed green the color of day-old grass
wet against lawn-mower blades. Home,

we iron till the kitchen steams,
revealing drape and luster.
Wally comes out and sits with us, too,

though he's already tired all the time,
and the three of us fog up the rainy windows,
talking, ironing, imagining mulberry acres

spun to this unlikely filament
--nearly animate stuff--and the endless
labor of unwinding the cocoons.

What strength and subtlety in these hues.
Doesn't rain make a memory more intimate?
We're pleased with our own calm privacy,

our part in the work of restoration,
that kitchen's achieved, common warmth,
the time-out-of-time sheen

of happiness to it, unmistakable
as the surface of those silks. And
all the while that fluttering spirit

of a kimono hung in the shop
like a lunar token, something
the ghost of a moth might have worn,

stirring on its hanger whenever
the door was opened--petal, phantom,
little milky flame lifting

like a curtain in the wind
--which even Lynda, slight as she was,
did not dare to try on.

Mark Doty

from Sweet Machine by Mark Doty. All rights reserved, HarperCollins Publishers.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Princess Haiku said...

This makes Princess Haiku dream of wearing a white kimono with elegant chrysanthemums dazzling the eye.

02 January, 2008 17:45  
Blogger A.Decker said...

This was written by a man? I feel like I've been privy to secret pleasures of female psyche.
Moved by the tenderness.
Thank you.

07 January, 2008 06:59  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

maybe we are more similar than you might have thought

08 January, 2008 16:50  
Blogger A.Decker said...

I'm thinking that more, lately, as well...

08 January, 2008 17:22  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

seems like it keeps shifting, doesn't it?

09 January, 2008 11:42  
Blogger A.Decker said...

I'm glad you said that. Since the late 60's, every time I think I understand where/if there's a demarcation, something comes before me that says otherwise. So, it's not just me? :-D


P.S.: I left a response on my site to your grooaann...about that joke. I'm just really sucseptible to lowbrow comedy. I hope you're not offended. (?)

09 January, 2008 13:59  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

heck--i grew up in michigan; we drink lowbrow comedy for lunch!

well, fortunately, the 60s seemed to open up that question.

it ain't all resolved, but both sexes have much broader options. you think we'll ever have it all resolved?

09 January, 2008 14:45  
Blogger A.Decker said...

I came awake in Michigan, 'til I was 4, then back to AR, so I know what you mean.;-)

Do you think we're really both the same essentially, except for biology of course, and culture does the rest?
For a while I thought biology would necessarily determine most of the mind and personality. This was after sort of giving up on the promise of the 60's(the 80's were harsh!:-D) but I want that to be wrong. Lately, some experiences in cyberspace(the Mark Doty poem, for instance)have me wondering.
But even if it is just culture, I doubt it will resolve in our lifetime :-( It has to start somewhere, though, eh?

09 January, 2008 17:44  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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