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Poetry: History



Vogue, 1937

Black is the colour, this season.
Elegant and final, the line is graceful,
trailing away behind to an
indiscernible point at which
something perfected becomes
perfect nothingness.
              The women,
rich and poor, wear
svelte mourning:  les dames for
the attenuated spirit of this year;
les bonnes for two decades of 
widowhood or childlessness.

Even the men appear more often
in sombre tones of station:
weekly newsreels bring confirmation
of unparalleled unanimity
of habit, reflecting the monuments
and the uniform cast of sky.

The perfumes, too, are heavy
and sleek, gardenia and smoke.
The charred odour of flesh drifts
through evening gardens and
country houses.      It recalls
somewhere else -- perhaps autumn --
either in dream or in memory:
I cannot say which.

Here and there, someone
is wearing a scarlet boutonniere,
a colourless orchid with a slender
chimney, not enough to note for
the trades, but perhaps
a harbinger, a trend.
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