Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Perfect Match ~ 1990's

"Can you come over as soon as possible? It’s important. I have to get to the mall.” 
— K. E. Hansen

By the time you ask, "What shade?"
my mind is already darting
forward, trying to find language
for what my eyes distinguish
without words.
I’m tempted
to just say "crimson,"
a word I’ve heard you use,
a member of the brilliant red
family, I’m pretty sure,
but knowing you
double-check your colors
with several sources,
can’t chance it.

"Uh . . . I’d say somewhere between
a fire engine
and fresh blood.

We’ve been shopping an hour
already, Gottschalk’s, Mervyns, Macy’s,
navigating narrow aisles,
exploring clothing jungles,
you, mapping, commanding, gripping
my arm,
me, steering, describing, trying to prevent
clothing-rack collisions.

Before going blind, you dreamed of fashion
design. And if I asked you today,
you could catalog the catch
from years past. The swarm of skin-tight
jeans. The flock of camis.
The herd of heels.
You design on your body,
carefully comparing, combining, creating
in your head before making
the final call.

“You mean scarlet,” you correct
me now, tone taut. "Let me
see." You often offer spur-
of-the-moment style tips.

Handing you the cotton stretch
“can’t be more than 3% spandex” top
to survey, I am delighted to avoid a grilling
about the cut, and I watch your fingers
systematically investigate
the neckline, sleeves, hem,
then slowly travel
across the front, over the back.

“I’m not sure it will work with my cream

cardigan. What’s your

At this moment, my mind goes
blank. A cardigan . . . ?
I wear black most days.
I spend less
than one minute, covering
myself with clothes.
I have never had the nerve
to tell you I did not know
until I met you
it was possible
for shades of black
not to match.

"It seems like a risk," I say finally, unwilling
to accept responsibility
should a clash
be reported.

“Too bad,” you say. “We’ll have to
keep hunting. How about hitting


“Let’s not forget
Ross,” I respond, half-masochist,
half-grateful, knowing
running out of stores.