Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dressing Down

Image courtesy of Artnet/Henry Patrick Raleigh, Theater Dressing Room

Before the Parade Passes By

I hurried into the small
basement room
and began unbuttoning
the elaborate buttons
on my pale lavender jacket. 

By the time
I made it across the room
to the scarred wooden chair
by the red-bricked wall,
I was already undoing
the fasteners
on my skirt.

Standing in front
of the mirror
I watched myself drape
the skirt and jacket
over the chair’s back.

shed at the door
like my pale lavender jacket
with its elaborate buttons
and the matching skirt
were never a key point,
and besides,
no one else n the room
seemed to care, anyway.
I stepped into
a violent array
of spangles and bright colors,
adjusting myself
as needed
(and it was needed)
and then gave one final
appraising look
in the mirror,
before dashing
back out of the room.

Behind the heavy curtains
I waited for my cue.


Process notes:  Years ago, I was in a production of Hello Dolly!  During the course of each performance, I had to make a quick change from my 'street clothes' costume (an elegant suit apropos of the Gilded Age) into a spangly showgirl costume in order to appear on the float for the 'Before the Parade Passes By' musical number.  (Then, after the number - just as quickly - I had to change back again.)  

This narrative poem was written in response to two prompts:  Big Tent Poetry's 'write about getting dressed somewhere other than a bedroom or a bathroom,' and Poetry Tow Truck's 'write about something common, like Sylvia Plath's mirror.'


  1. I've performed on stage myself in my youth. nicely done.

  2. RJ~ You brought the anticipation of performance to life through this prompt so beautifully. The jacket's elaborate buttons are somehow enticing. I like how the piece ends on a heightened note. Well done! ~Brenda

  3. An very interesting and engaging piece. I get a similar feeling now, when I'm about to present a poem online. Waiting for the "cue" and then...the applause (comments) that tell me I did a good perfomance. I find a strong parallel there.
    Anyway... nice write...APPLAUSE!

  4. I wish I'd been there - you make it all come alive.

  5. very vivid description. it must be a real job to change so quickly.

  6. An excellent and detailed record of a showgirl's swift costume changes. Slick time-keeping!

  7. RJ, I love it, the anticipation of acting, is apparent in this piece. Nicely penned.


  8. Randi, the purpose behind your quick undressing was elusive until the end. You held us all, I think.

    Having rushed in for my cue, I can relate. But you made it all sound SO much sexier than it really is! And you're right - no one cares if you strip down to your bra!!


  9. Nice and sexy, and then not.

  10. nice performance and super words.....thanks for sharing

  11. I admire you stage-y people. Love this poem -

  12. A fascinating take on getting undressed. I like how no one else cares - or probably notices, as they are doing the same.

  13. Very vivid description! I can relate to getting ready for a performance, though a very different kind. I used to work as an oboist. :)