Clothes in the Closet

Limp as dishcloths, they hang, useless in the backs of closets—jackets or dresses or shifts worn in years gone by. You might, you once thought, wear them again: that fashion might return, you might gain or lose weight, feel as swaggering or slightly demure. Lift shoulders, cross legs. You might try on the past as costume just to look in the mirror to see who it was who wore it. Some have disappeared in boxes to Goodwill. Some have been turned into rags. But some are draped in plastic and hang there year after year. They evoke extraordinary days—occasions for velvet or brocade. For a while there are the usual illusions of return, but ultimately, they are painful reminders that they won’t ever fit, not so much because of the body’s vagaries, but because even parody is impotent against the time that time has become.