Wednesday Poem

If we do not mass produce products, we vie with one another
in the difficult, exquisite and useless art of dressing fleas
……………………………………………….—Octavio Paz

Dressing Fleas

Mr and Mrs Flea are dressed up
and ready for the celebrations.
He sports a neatly tailored waistcoat,
she silver-bordered asymmetric skirts.

They are the talk and toast of the party.

Sad to say, however,
a budding fashionista in the audience
catches sight of their duds,
and next year on the catwalks of Milan and London
the look is brazenly passed off
as the signature of the couture line
at the brand new House of Insect,
which in due course signs a cracking deal
with a high street shop.

I don’t need to say the Fleas never see a penny,
and neither does their tailor,
who, five months out of the punishing year,
wrecks his eyes
and racks sleep-heavy brains
in the decking out of his favourite customers.

Though for him it was never about the money –
the fleas, dearest, could hardly pay,
and the tailor is in any case not a tailor
but a farmer from the provinces
going about satisfaction in his own, yes,
his own unfathomable way
where the sun drops, faithless, to the littoral,
dead dark balling its fists against the light.

See him there, readied at the chipboard table.
He takes a swig of liquor.
See, dearest, how the inconsistent stars glitter and claw.

by Miriam Gamble
from Poetry Ireland Review, Number 104, August, 2011