The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Portrait of a Woman Walking Home by Anne Casey

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Alaina Hanchey, is from Portrait of a Woman Walking Home by Anne Casey, released by Recent Work Press in 2021.

Portrait of a woman walking home

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I like the way the sinking sun slips a golden aureole around you on that last straight stretch
of twilit street just before you round the corner falling suddenly under the towering
penumbra of these deserted edifices so recently bustling with workers exiting—
their veins visibly throbbing with concerns of the day—now soaring in 
silence stripped of activity as if subjected to the unexpected descent
of some cataclysmic event while you were finishing up that last
pile dropped off by your manager with such urgency it needed
completing before his return tomorrow morning and though
you held up your end, now finding despite your own best 
instincts you are wandering halo-less—alone—down this
dusk-lit street clutching your bag against a skateboarder 
shooting out from under a gaping facade like that time
with the razor-blade-wielding trio you inexplicably
chased and though you escaped unharmed there
is always that scar of doubt lingering alongside
the stomach-churning whispers and worse—
the still-felt imprints—but there is no
escaping the current situation
and that really is such
a nice pair
of sheer
black stockings perfectly paired with
those moderate heels showing
off your finely toned calves your hem
gliding just above the delicately curved backs
of your knees stirring in unison with the soft waves
around your raised but ever-so-slight shoulders and you
know though you do your prescribed daily workout with
just enough resistance you will never quite muster the power
you would need and it takes a certain set of eyes to realise on
your approach through the now-profound dusk to the welcome
arc of each lamppost that your silky blouse illuminates so precisely
from behind one can pick out the exact lines of your body moving so
fluidly within its satiny folds sashaying with the swing of your hips though
I know you are making extreme efforts to lessen the sway there is a certain gait
you cannot ameliorate in this corporate get-up—skirt over heels over female pelvis
and it is so obviously more-than-a-little inadvisable for you to have placed yourself in
this delicate position where you might be seen to provoke a certain reaction in an onlooker
of a particular disposition—it being late and you quite clearly under-dressed for the hour and
with every breath you take wondering why it is					we have to watch
												ourselves like this.

Originally from the west of Ireland and living in Sydney, Anne Casey is author of five poetry collections. A journalist and legal author for 30 years, her work is widely published internationally, ranking in The Irish Times‘ Most Read. Anne has won literary awards in Ireland, Australia, the UK, Canada, Hong Kong and the USA, most recently American Writers Review 2021 and the Henry Lawson Prize 2022. She is the recipient of an Australian Government scholarship and a bursary for her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Technology Sydney where she researches and teaches.

Alaina Hanchey, known as Harley to both friends and foes, believes rhetoric is intensely important and the way we speak can change the world. That belief was shared by her best friend, Quinn Arielle Kerlin, who inspired her to volunteer and immerse herself in those words that matter, and the connections that matter.


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