(11)-New-York-SkirtI bought it on E. 7th St. in a shop that was only open for one day. Kerouac used to live in that building, but he was dead by then. No zippers or buttons, just strips of fabric to tie on either side of the waist. If I had been one to twirl … but I wasn’t one to twirl. Still, the skirt worked like honey to flies. Many secret boyfriends, men who’d match their gait to mine and ask for my phone number. I craved tenderness; it’s that simple. When the cat was let out of the bag, my real boyfriend would beat them up, bloody their noses. The real boyfriend was clean for ten years, then OD’d out of the blue. Out of the blue of that skirt, some would say. He’s buried in a whaling cemetery, looking out to sea. Don’t ask me why. I was uninvited from that graveside service. Now I have a limp and the skirt is gone. Why do I have a limp? It involved a pair of little red shoes, a half-size too large, soles like glass. Fashion, my downfall.

Diane Seuss is the recipient of the 2009 Juniper Prize for Poetry.  Her collection Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in April 2010.  Recent work is forthcoming or has appeared in Poetry, New Orleans Review, Blackbird and The Georgia Review.  She is Writer in Residence at Kalamazoo College in Michigan.

Photo by Ryan Rodgers