Tuesday, September 09, 2008

the comfort of old pants

It's sunny outside this morning, a relief after yesterday's rain. It looks like a beautiful day, my coffee has a more-than-average level of creamy deliciousness, and it's cool enough in my apartment to wear my old bathrobe, the one I've had since I was about twelve.
Summer is nice, wonderful, great (especially after winter and a chilly spring), but in my mind it can't compare with fall. Fall is my favorite season here: not too cold yet usually, the leaves changing colors, an in-between season. But I think a large part of why I like fall is because of the clothes. I always have a slightly hard time in the spring, as we edge slowly towards summer and actual warmth, because it also involves a gradual unveiling of skin that I have become accustomed to covering up. I feel naked for weeks until I get used to the breeze on my shoulders, my calves. But in the fall, I get to reverse that uncovering and return to the clothes I love best. Somehow, nothing makes me feel more safe, sane, and stable than a good pair of corduroy pants, a sweater, some comfy socks, a quilt on my bed, my bathrobe. These are clothes you can snuggle into, clothes that have the function of protecting you from a chill instead of just existing to cover up societally unacceptable body parts. They exist to make you feel better.
When I was in Poland the first time, I made my students read poems with me, solely because I had a giant book of Neruda with me and no clear idea of how to teach conversational english to high schoolers. The best ones for that were from the Odas Elementales: odes to chestnuts, books, laziness, yellow birds, and tomatoes (that one was a huge hit). They were things that my students could relate to, that they could at least grasp the concept of. But apart from the tomato, one of my favorites is an ode to faithful clothing. It sums up my feelings, and even though it's a little long, here it is for your reading pleasure.

Ode to the Clothes

Every morning you wait,
clothes, over a chair,
for my vanity,
my love,
my hope, my body
to fill you,
I have scarely
left sleep,
I say goodbye to the water
and enter your sleeves,
my legs look for
the hollow of your legs,
and thus embraced
by your unwearying fidelity
I go out to tread the fodder,
I move into poetry,
I look through windows,
at things,
men, women,
actions and struggles
keep making me what I am,
opposing me,
employing my hands,
opening my eyes,
putting taste in my mouth,
and thus,
clothes,
I make you what you are,
pushing out your elbows,
bursting the seams,
and so your life swells,
the image of my life.
You billow
and resound in the wind
as though you were my soul,
at bad moments
you cling
to my bones
empty, at night
the dark, sleep,
people with their phantoms
your wings and mine.
I ask
whether one day
a bullet
from the enemy
will stain you with my blood
and then
you will die with me
or perhaps
it may not be
so dramatic
but simple,
and you will sicken gradually,
clothes,
with me, with my body
and together
we will enter
the earth.
At the thought of this
every day
I greet you
with reverence, and then
you embrace me and I forget you
because we are one
and will go on facing
the wind together, at night,
the streets or the struggle,
one body,
maybe, maybe, one day motionless.

8 comments:

Rosiecat said...

Fall is my favorite season too!

I have to report that my morning coffee also had a more-than-average level of creaminess, probably because I used a tablespoon of heavy cream in my coffee! Usually I use milk to make a latte, but I'm out of milk right now...I firmly believe that cream deserves its reputation for deliciousness!

Lovely post, my dear.

ammie said...

You know, I like cream in certain contexts, but I can't stand dairy in my coffee. I have certain vegan holdbacks, and hot cream just grosses me out :( But I love the particular creaminess that comes from lots of soymilk in my coffee. To each her own, I suppose. And thanks!

Raquel Laneri said...

I love that poem, and I love old clothes, and I love fall clothes. I got to wear a cardigan and scarf today and I felt so cozy! I love old bathrobes though. I have one at my grandma's that I always wear whenever I sleep over her place--and it used to be my mother's, so it feels extra nostalgic and like a piece of history.

ammie said...

Oh, nostalgia clothing is the best... I love fall.

erica said...

i think we've talked about the seasonal unveiling of body parts before, and some of your ideas of how things like sexuality and modesty are influenced by what is/isn't covered up, and i've been thinking recently, after a long summer-that-wasn't-summer (by which i mean there were perhaps 2 days i didn't wear a scarf and at least 2 layers) and now looking towards alaskan early winter and mid-winter elsewhere and really no chance for revealing clothes in sight, i've been thinking about different ways i've come to think of myself because of the multilayered sweaters than i did in, say, tucson, where i lived in tank tops and tiny hippie skirts. don't have any conclusions, but it's definitely different.

ammie said...

Yeah, no conclusions for me either... It's interesting how much of a difference skin exposure makes. Once I get used to it, I actually quite enjoy showing all that skin in the summer, but I still like fall for it's cuddly-clothing factor. My gender presentation changes dramatically from summer (lots of dresses, skirts, femmey clothes) to fall or winter (much more androgynous, I think). And that all changes the way I think about myself.

ShanaRose said...

It's funny to read your welcoming for fall at this point when we're all itching to get out of all these clothes. At least...I think I blame that on winter... ;)

ammie said...

Well, summer clothes have their place too, for sure... But there's something about old bathrobes and corduroy pants :) I feel cute in the fall, and sexier in the summer, I think. Both good, but different.