Am I what I wear? Reading this fabulous collection inspired me to pause in front of the long mirror in my daughter’s bedroom. Then, I started rifling through my closet. Eating Her Wedding Dress is cleverly divided into four parts –or fitting rooms–where we look at who we are, or who we wish we could be without the glare of nasty lighting.
Part one, Presentation, describes how custom-tailored pieces and materials such as lace and satin define our social status. I should know –classy pieces like this are in short supply on the Goodwill racks.
In part two, Alterations, clothing is used as metaphor for our desires, ambitions, inhibitions, and disappointments. “Eating Her Wedding Dress,” spoken in the persona of an older, unmarried sister of the bride, compares the wedding hors d’oeuvres of pearl onions and oysters to pearl beads and ivory buttons on a wedding dress. Maybe that older sister should take my advice: when all else fails, belt it at the waist.
Part three, Selvages, salvages memories woven into the warp and weft of hand-made clothing left to us. I can’t bear to send some things to the Salvation Army, even if I won’t wear it again. Who could appreciate pink sweater knitted with the swollen fingers and dimming eyesight of my late mother in law?
I lingered the longest at part four, Sheer, (maybe it should have been called Lingerie?) where clothing magically stimulates the senses and imagination. “Eve’s Red Dress” transforms a woman into a dancer that spins, whirls, and burns up the dance floor without divine retribution. No broken underwires, unflattering panty lines or runs in her hose. She doesn’t even get a parking ticket at the end of the evening.
It happened three times
my dangle earring hooked
to your beard, a clean
to hoops now,
we come away
without a snag.
I feel the pull: my face
tugged back to yours,
a line between us
—Amy McLellan, Eating Her Wedding Dress, A Collection of Clothing Poems