Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Red Dress


The Red Dress


I don't want to. I don't want to give you away. I still long to be the young girl I once was who could slip so easily into your silhouette.

But you were not young when you came to me, you were already old - it was a generation before. You were born from the hands of a woman who believed in the magic of needle and thread, good cotton fabric, the hum of a sewing machine, the feel of new seams, and the beauty of buttons. She made an art out of sewing, transforming the simply flat into exquisite form.

One time, maybe the best time, I wore you when I danced. The late afternoon sunlight was streaming through the studio windows, making long shadows of your full gathered skirt. The music felt sacred and permeated the atmosphere with magic and grace. I twirled and you followed, a beat behind me, like an echo or a trace of light. I melted into the floor, laying you upon it softly and with dignity. The floor was our friend. I rolled and somersaulted around the room, losing sight of space and time. I liked to be upside-down and you liked to be inside-out. We were proud of our eccentricities.

But how can I describe your red? Oh to find the words! Like roses, of course. And blood from the prick of their thorns. The heat of a bonfire, the blush of a passionate kiss, the taste of strawberries in the spring, the love of a good man. I saw your red once before in a dream, but I have forgotten what it was. Maybe it was a mirror to my soul.

But now I am old and my waist strains against your thin tight belt. We no longer fit each other. It is sad, but expected. The spread of flesh over time. It is time to say good-bye. Find a new life with a new generation.


3 comments:

Marsha Carlin said...

Penelope, we met via the wonderful Debra R in NYC and I am delighted to have become acquainted with your journey via your blog. This piece about your beloved red dress is touching and poignant, although being 72 years old, and starting to have trouble with my knees, I can't agree that 60 is OLD!
In the past I've taken old garments (mostly silk) that no longer fit, and I tear them into thin strips, which I then tie together and give them new life by knitting these favorite fabrics into scarves ...I call them Loose Ends memory scarves....but I agree with your intention of passing your lovely red dress on to dance another day on another more "fitting" body....and hopefully you will see it whirl and soar again when it does so!
Best,
Marsha Carlin

SharonAzar said...

Dearest Penelope...your bow to the red dress and your passing youth is profoundly touching and full of breath and longing. The most beautiful things in this world always contain the spirit of longing...In ancient Japan this is called "mono no aware'..which literally means...the pathos of things...you and your red dress and your memories have caught the spirit of mono no aware. . thank you for gifting the world with your heart, soul and spirit. . with love, Sharon

Diana/Mom/Nonna said...

This is beautiful, Penelope, but also a painful reflection on the aesthetics of impermanence. You really put your finger on that fine edge between joy and sadness, existential pain and hope. Getting older isn't easy, is it? Love you, Diana