by Marcia F. Brown

Too brown for winter
and brittle as a wishbone, she marches
through the store in ostrich boots,
stilettos spiked enough
to drill out a bad tooth. Hair
the color of mink or brandied cherries
flies from a studied topknot like sparks.
You could open a beer bottle
on her clavicles.

It has not been given to me
to know how anyone walks
on legs stuffed into drinking straws, or breathes
beneath a corset of spandex and glimmer.
I have my willful ignorance. She, her belts
four or five of them or maybe just one
of many twisted links and lengths, wrapped
round and round her, lest she lift off
like paper up a chimney.

It is bright in this unearthly marketplace.
Enormous jewelstudded shades
glow opaquely from her hairline black
eyes of ravens. Painted claws
thrash racks in what is either
a kind of hunger or despair I would be
hard pressed to say.

Other shoppers steer clear I think
we are beginning to feel something
like fear. But not as much
as the man fears her, the one who now
comes rushing to her side like a good big dog
who never meant to get lost.

The man carries her fur and leather
coat, protection a Viking would envy,
and an oversized bag, so heavy
with chains and grommets,
it might pass as weaponry.

Our fashionista whirls on him, hoists
the clanking satchel from his hand
to the wingtip of her shoulder which
astonishingly holds. The shades
slam down, heels hammer across the floor.

The little beige man follows. Freed
from his burden, he looks smaller, drab
as she is spectral worn tweeds, brown trousers.
Some days he must wish to live
in one of those ancient, faraway civilizations
whose tribal adulation is lavished on its men robes
of splendor, paint and plumage ancient cultures
and most species of bird.