Claudia Emerson

(13 January 1957 / Chatham, Virginia)

The Mannequin Above Main Street Motors. - Poem by Claudia Emerson

When the only ladies’ dress shop closed,
she was left on the street for trash, unsalvageable,

one arm missing, lost at the shoulder, one leg
at the hip. But she was wearing a blue-sequined negligee

and blonde wig, so they helped themselves to her
on a lark—drunken impulse—and for years kept her

leaning in a corner, beside an attic
window, rendered invisible. The dusk

was also perpetual in the garage below,
punctuated only by bare bulbs hung close

over the engines. An oily grime coated
the walls, and a decade of calendars promoted

stock-car drivers, women in dated swimsuits,
even their bodies out of fashion. Radio distorted

there; cigarette smoke moaned, the pedal steel
conceding to that place a greater, echoing

sorrow. So, lame, forgotten prank, she remained,
back turned forever to the dark storage

behind her, gaze leveled just above
anyone’s who could have looked up

to mistake in the cast of her face fresh longing—
her expression still reluctant figure for it.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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