Even the white models
all wear their hair in straight bangs.
The Asian models, too—like clones
they glide out, lush throats
throttled by nephrite. The editors
call the pieces “1920s chinoiserie.”
I call them glorified dog collars.
One by one they strut, chameleons,
fishnetted darlings with red lips
that imply: diablerie. These women
slip into the diabolical roles
I’ve played but don’t pay for it.
Now I am someone’s muse.
Good. It’s February, Fashion Week.
The coldest winter since weather
went live. Everywhere still—pale
legs exposed to infernal snow.
I want to trust the mohair
to keep me warm—I want to trust
the cloth that holds me close.
But in this room, the spotlight flatters
every flaw. When the show is over,
the applause is meant for stars
but my ovation is for the shadows.
From Oculus. Copyright © 2019 by Sally Wen Mao. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press.