Karen Rigby is the author of Chinoiserie (2011 Sawtooth Poetry Prize, Ahsahta Press, 2012.) Her website is www.karenrigby.com.
When hobble skirts
are the thing, the fattest wabble along,
looking for all the world
———————————- like chandeliers
tied up in mosquito netting.
All the sheep run and dress themselves
like a left-over member of the circus,
like a toy monkey-on-a-stick.
In harmony with her geranium pots and her chintz:
———–Une dame élégante!
Young Mrs. Gilding always wears orange on the golf course.
To see her often is like nothing
——–so much as being forced to eat
—————–a large amount of butter—plain.
Queen of the Cannibals, what makes
a brilliant party? Clothes.
that can be
(Never mind if you look like Mme. Recamier
———–with your hair fluffed
—————–like a skinned rabbit.)
Henna, raspberry, red, grass green, Royal blue,
black serge, white velvet, crêpe de chine, shell-
Your tea-gowns can be as bizarre as you please.
What fur and feathers are to beasts and birds –
not an attack of fashionitis.
———————————Not an extravagance at all.
Spray of feathers. Millions. Evidence
———-with brim and harem-veil
white carnation — beauty in the guise —
———-Is that thought not exquisite?
Is that not delicious? Is an emerald lizard
———-conspicuous in the tropics?
Is a zebra even seen in patches of sun and shade?
When no great star is to sing.
When swathed like a Turk.
When already Mlle. Marie is aware
take the streetcar. Change
your manner, be followed
by every woman, be sure
of your diagnosis, likened to a tide
or epidemic, blue and silver delirious…
SOURCE: Post, Emily. Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1922.