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Dissociation

by Sarah Crossland

                    After the Da Milano Purse Ad

          I.

An archipelago
               of women, grey-scaled
          their faces:
          black blush, teeth
     a niveous white.

Around the couch, their knees
          gather as twigs bent ready

to kindle
          a pearlish stalk of fire.

     They remember little
     of their childhoods:
          piano lessons,
     cleaning a mother’s
          pastry brush.
     Dormer windows sufficient only
          for a dollhouse.

          II.

     Instead of the fellow’s head:
a purse, turquoise as a rose
          that can’t exist,

                    the range of a leather
                         strip in place
                         of thread,
                    tied and two
                         tassels weighty enough
                    with buds of this.

The handle makes a pair
     of haloes. They could be instead:
          his ears, nostrils,
          twin sclera or choroid⎯
               the little pieces
                of his eyes.

          III.

          But the suit of him
          beneath: it’s what’s
     the psychiatrist
          for whispering
          girls.

Tell me your name, the topcoat asks.
Tell me about your childhood.

     As if charm were a matter of matching
          cufflinks, a matter of how big
          the long dark
     space is in the cavern
          of your head.

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