But she dared not look in the glass. She could not face the whole horror – the pale yellow, idiotically old-fashioned silk dress with its long skirt and its high sleeves and its waist and all the things that looked so charming in the fashion book, but not on her, not among all these ordinary people. She felt like a dressmaker’s dummy standing there, for young people to stick pins into.
Some days she flicks through the clothes hangers but finds nothing to wear. She doesn’t find it because she does not know what she is looking for. She picks out a silky shirt and dark trousers. The garments feel all wrong. Clothes that don’t quite match, trousers that don’t quite fit. Short of time, she leaves to meet the day, meet him. He says she’s beautiful. His words are ill fitting too.
Bending over she found one of the braids of Marjorie’s hair, followed it up with her hand to the point nearest the head, and then holding it a little slack so that the sleeper would feel no pull, she reached down with the shears and severed it. With the pigtail in her hand she held her breath. Marjorie had muttered something in her sleep. Bernice deftly amputated the other braid, paused for an instant, and then flitted swiftly and silently back to her own room.
Veronica Martin’s ‘Gold Collar’ is about things. The things on our bodies and in our spaces and the intimate distance they have in our lives. Accompanied by Alicia Meseguer’s fragments of found images, another reality – corporeal, spacial, tenebrous – is put forward.
Why didn’t I keep it? It was used to me and I was used to it. It molded all the folds of my body without inhibiting it; I was picturesque and handsome. The other one is stiff, and starchy, makes me look stodgy. There was no need to which its kindness didn’t loan itself, for indigence is almost always officious. If a book was covered in dust, one of its panels was there to wipe it off. If thickened ink refused to flow in my quill, it presented its flank. Traced in long black lines, one could see the services it had rendered me. These long lines announce the litterateur, the writer, the man who works. I now have the air of a rich good for nothing. No one knows who I am.
Your face is pale, contours chalked out like anatomy was just a malleable paste: a blank canvas ready for Jackson Pollock to drip allover in liberating gestures. Pollock’s possessed chaos always looked orgasmic to me: I am sure abstract expressionists were taken over by the raw energy of unrepressed sexual desire as they painted.
Size-2 shadows of his wife hung there in long rows, layer upon layer, as if someone had gathered and hung up samples of the infinite possibilities (or at least the theoretically infinite possibilities) implied in the existence of a human being.
A delicate and illustrative poem by Veronica Martin, exploring the fictive potential for fashion in literature, accompanied by images by Poppy Skelley, in a collaborative response to the prose.
The really nasty ones, the killers, the rapists, the child killers and child rapists; the ones who have been held in custody, denied bail, too dangerous to release, flight risk, suicide risk; they arrive in prison vans. They’re tricky, the vans. The toughened plastic windows are tinted, and we all hold up our cameras and take shot after shot anyway, but almost all of the time the results are useless. Nothing but close-ups of a black plastic window.
The dress she would wear was laying out on the bed. Hazel and Etta had both been good about lending her their best clothes – considering that they weren’t supposed to come to the party. There was Etta’s long blue crêpe de chine evening dress and some white pumps and a rhinestone tiara for her hair. These clothes were really gorgeous. It was hard to imagine how she would look in them.
“Take it off, Carrie. We’ll go down and burn it in the incinerator together, and then pray for forgiveness. We’ll do penance.” Her eyes began to sparkle with the strange, disconnected zeal that came over her at events which she considered to be tests of faith. “I’ll stay home from work and you’ll stay home from school. We’ll pray. We’ll ask for a Sign. We’ll get us down on our knees and ask for the Pentecostal Fire.”
He saw her hunched over the table, the fabric surrounding her like a moat. He failed to see the point of it. They weren’t lovers like that. They slept together, they drank together, they laughed together. But they did not holiday together. They did not go to parties together. No, they did not make plans together.