The Woman with a Dress of Sky
It’s there in her closet. She doesn’t wear it often.
On days she does, the day is different.
Small children run their fingers along her hem,
men stare frankly at her unassuming breasts.
She finds a light hand on her shoulder, a woman
who has never touched her before. The hand
lingers, fingers fanning into cloud.
In it, she’s subject to the weather.
In the morning, the light skirt glows with waves
of May sunshine. Puffy wisps drift across her
hips and thighs, gathering in the bodice in cloudy
profusion. By afternoon, the whole dress is slate
grey, a humid embrace. She lays down for a nap
in a bed of mist and light wind, dreams of flying.
At dusk, she takes a walk alone. She drifts
familiar side streets, nodding at near
strangers who smile in the fading light.
Their dogs snuffle for smells, not seeing
or scenting her. She and her dress are dark
amid the darkness, but she crosses without
folly, without caution. She is not afraid.
The Woman with a Suit of Earth
It’s too much for most of her occasions,
but she wears it more and more. She lays it
on the floor at night, and in the morning
it’s easy just to shrug herself back into it.
It keeps her warm in winter and cool
in the heat of summer. But it is heavy,
always dense and loamy or baked thick,
cracking all over with dry rivulets.
She carries it on her back and on her hips,
bears it as she wears it. Where she’s been
it leaves smudges of mud, crumbles
of black soil, in drought a dusting of dirt.
She loves that it keeps her grounded.
But in it, she doesn’t stride or try to run.
She shambles. She shuffles her feet.
She’s given up on keeping her shoes clean.
By afternoon, she feels drug down. In the early
evening, it’s all she can do to keep upright.
She doesn’t want to sleep in it, but she’s tired,
so tired she drops down in dreamless sleep.
Elizabeth Majerus lives in Urbana, Illinois, with her husband, son, and daughter. She is one-third of the band Motes.