Self-portrait as Thousandfurs

Stacy Gnall
        To have been age enough.
To have been leg enough.
Been enough bold. Said no. 
Been a girl grown into that 
negative construction. Or said yes 
on condition of a dress. To be yours 
if my skirts skimmed the floors.
To have demanded each seam 
celestial, appealed for planetary pleats.
        And when you saw the sun a sequin, 
the moon a button shaped from glass, 
and in the stars a pattern 
for a dress, when the commission 
proved too minute, and the frocks 
hung before me like hosts, 
to have stood then at the edge 
of the wood, heard a hound’s bark 
and my heart hark in return.
        To have seen asylum in the scruffs 
of neck—mink, lynx, ocelot, fox,  
Kodiak, ermine, wolf—felt a claw 
curve over my sorrow then. Said yes 
on condition of a dress. To be yours 
if my skirts skimmed the floors.
To have demanded each seam 
just short of breathing, my mouth 
a-beg for bestial pleats. 
        And when you saw tails as tassels, 
underskins sateen, and in entrails 
damasks of flowers and fruit, 
when the bet proved not too broad 
for you, and before me, the cloak held 
open as a boast, to have slipped 
into that primitive skin. To have 
turned my how how into a howl. To have 
picked up my heavy hem and run.

Related Poems

3 Men: Portraits Without the Human Figure

Hotel-casino: lights flash, crowds tread
patterned carpets hoping for a turn
in fortune. Despite the ardent wishes
of the women you have left you are not dead.
You’re good at lively passing things
that happen here: at restaurants, in bed,
at tables tossing dice and cards. That smudge
at bottom right stands in for me, as you plunge
breathless into chance as into women, risk
like drink obliterating everything.

Studio: smells of linseed oil and turpentine. Brushes,
palette knives, mixing-sticks; bottles, jars, tubes. Paint
in daubs and gobs and smears and dots and slashes.
You left the window open and everything stained.

Greenhouse. Beneath little panes pocked
by time and dotted with mold and lichen, rot,
a riot of tropical effulgence, small framed portion
of the endlessness. Spiky plants blossom
like ideas; light glances off the glass and gleams
on the permanent hunger, steams. Everything
blooms or is green. You shrug into your coat.