Dress
by P. Ivan Young

Each version of you
hangs on the tidy rail

and I wonder how
many times I’ve seen you,

started over, met you
in the dim hallway

of our home and had fresh
insight into your body’s

curves, the attitude
of a scarf as telling

as anything you could whisper.
I run my fingers over rows

of you: silk floral
of the last commands

to the babysitter
before we slip out

for a dinner alone;
comfortable cotton standing

at the sink rinsing iris bulbs,
so many distractions

of the interspersed days
laid out in spaghetti straps

and stripes, crêpe and wool,
a textured catalog of how

bodies change together.
And then a rich brown,

like an earthen goddess,
peeks from behind plastic

bagged artifacts.  I unveil
the plunging back, the high

hemline, so strange
to have never seen,

and I think of the night
I came home to find you

thumbing through pictures
and humming a song

you loved when you were young.




                 ____________________________


P. Ivan Young’s recent publications include Hayden’s Ferry
Review
, The James Dickey Review, The Cortland Review,
Fourteen Hills, Zone 3, and Crab Orchard Review.  He studied
with the late James Dickey at the University of South Carolina,
where he received his MFA.  Young is the 2013 winner of the
Norton Girault Prize through
Barely South Review, and he
received an Individual Artist Award in Poetry from the Maryland
State Arts Council in 2011.  His manuscript
Smell of Salt, Ghost
of Rain
won second place in the National Federation of State
Poetry Societies’ Stevens Contest and was a semi-finalist for
both the Waywiser 2012 Poetry Book Contest and the Fresno
State 2013 Philip Levine Poetry Prize.  Young is currently an
Instructor of Poetry and Creative Writing at Salisbury University
in Salisbury, Maryland.


On “Dress”:
“Dress” came from a conversation with my wife about noticing
my children code-switch.  Later that morning I walked into our
bedroom closet and saw my wife’s dressing gown hanging on
the door and began to think about how clothing is a sort of
code-switching.  Each new outfit is a new persona the wearer
dons.  The first draft of the poem came from imagining the
various versions of my wife, represented by the different outfits
hanging in the closet.  For me, the complication of the piece
developed from the thought of all the versions of her I would
never know that had occurred before we met, but it also rose
from a continuation of that thought: that there were versions
of her occurring every day that I would also never know,
versions at work or when she went out with friends or when she
was at home alone.  It struck me that this was the heart of the
poem: not the truism (perhaps even cliché) that we can never
know another, but the ever occurring cycle of discovery and
estrangement with those closest to us.   
 


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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Literature
 

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 9, Number 1
(Spring 2014)

Copyright © 2014
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Apple
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.

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