Sometimes you come back to me, invoked by accident– a similar pigment, something almost kindred in the way you absorbed the light – and I am seduced, unstitched with the thought of you.
I come undone like a cascade of beads from the
broken filament of my memory, seeing myself
as if in a mirror or a photograph: your color, your
cut, your grace on my body, the witchery Ibought you for. Here a chemise’s boatlike sweep
on the clavicle, here a plunge deep as risk, here a
gossamer blush, like a remembered kiss. Garland of feathersthe color of my birthstone. Shawls gathered coyly,
shrugged off in cunning. Trinkets twinkling with suggestion.Lace and satin, stepped into, steeped in anticipation.
Things I bought as much for the undressing as for the dress.Vine of bells for the wrist, twins of the same for the ankles, so a lover might learn the sound of
a bed being left. Batik. Those leopard print bootsribboned up the thigh, loved once and boxed ever since.
How delicate, the weave of incident and accouterment.Gypsy silver. The bias cut in bottle green, crown of flowers, kalamkari acquired in the sickness of another nostalgia. Skirt, sunlit as Pondicherry ochre.
Guile of womanly sway in nonchalant denim. Jacquardvelvet bought when too young to wear it.
Mandarin collar. Basque translucent as rose quartz.What I wore that night, what I would wear if only – if only – I had it tonight.
Drape of poncho or pashmina, for a sagacious guise.
Crepe crinkling like a laugh. Power and playof gentleman’s fedora. Cowgirl’s hat.
The simplicity of a tight black thing, amiablewith everything.
Embroidery. Mirrorwork. Say it slowly – suede.
Oh these splendorousthings fit for a queen – if only they weren’t in quarantine.
Let me have them back for a day,if not for tonight. How I’d set this town on fire:
the damage of desire, kindled withcouture and thrift shop glee,
tinder of greed and regret,
struck alight with the
heartbreak of my highest heels.
~ Sharanya Manivannan
Sharanya Manivannan was born in Madras, India in 1985, and grew up in Sri Lanka and Malaysia. She represented Malaysia at Poetry Parnassus in 2012, and was a spotlight writer in The Missing Slate’s seventh issue.