Learning to Dress Myself by Sierra Golden

Learning to Dress Myself

Touch the fondue pot, antique lamp,
jean jacket, platform wedge-heeled
sandals, pencil skirt, China teacup—

my fingers develop a light film—
sweat or dirt or whatever it is
that makes our things ours.

I jockey through the crowd. Race,
wait with a blue basket
at the dressing rooms. Breathe.

Check for stains, loose threads, split
seams, holes, tears, elbows or knees
worn bare, lost buttons, fallen hems.

I remember the bus ride. The moment
my head turned to look at Luly Yang’s
window: silk the color of late spring.

Let my body sing. Let my clavicle
jump from a plain v-neck tee. My hair
curl itself into a good French twist.

Oh may I be as crafty as Luly, here
in Goodwill. May I set my body ablaze,
may I buy the royal purple dress:

strapless lace bodice, sweetheart neckline,
décolletage, bow as big as my face,
satin skirt frothy with tulle.

I wear it twice. Once in suede pumps
with leather rosettes, a velvet handbag.
Man I’m supposed to marry but won’t

saying he could only like the dress more
if it were on the floor—and once
when the man I’m forbidden to love

photographs me amongst bunkers and dead
grass, wearing thick-soled brown rubber boots,
my skin goose-pimpled with cold, the wind.

The purple skirt floating up, galloping like a flag.


Sierra Golden graduated with an MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University. Her debut collection The Slow Art was published by Bear Star Press and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Golden’s poems appear in literary journals such as Prairie Schooner, Permafrost, and Ploughshares.