The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Head to Toe of It by Rikki Santer

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Genevieve Pfeiffer, is from Head to Toe of It by Rikki Santer, released by Kelsay Books in 2021. 

At the Fashion Museum

The covenant we cast since
days of fig leaf & loincloth,
thrill of what’s under the zipper,
silk stripped against an ear of corn.
Enter this frozen farm of mannequins
with phantom antlers & rooster
combs. Gallery corrals where craft
is high, fruits hang low & bucketfuls
of hue know how to color an empire.

Defying brittle sepia tones of
history with spinning jenny like
a noble dinosaur with its offspring—
wool frocks, cotton petticoats,
gingham coy & lace demure, teasing
tulle, taffeta, cashmere, tooth of
hound, & buds of lavender pregnant
with the grammar of ornament.

Fashion, the great sartorial pollinator—
nipple windows, suits that speak
louder than words, hands swallowed
by sleeves, youthquake of ready-to-wear.
To reimagine pleats or gender binary,
orange as new pink, snow globes
of counter-culture couture.

Temple where we worship
the language of fabric & dismiss
ghosts of expiration dates.

Rikki Santer’s poetry has received many honors including six Pushcart and three Ohioana and Ohio Poet book award nominations as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her eleventh poetry collection, Stopover, which is in conversation with the original Twilight Zone series, was recently published by Luchador Press. She is also a member of the teaching artist roster of the Ohio Arts Council, a vice president of the Ohio Poetry Association, and a member of the poetry troupe Concrete Wink.

Genevieve Pfeiffer is a poet, writer, and scholar. Their masters project at New York University explores ideological shifts around birth control & abortion and their intersections with nature & culture. Read more about this project at the link below.


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