Friday, May 11, 2018

Poetry Friday: "Monastic Habits"

Yesterday morning, I was up very early, getting some writing done and listening to NPR episodes.  This one on high school dress codes and girls' clothing intrigued me.  And then I headed to the Convention Center to meet some real life high school students. 

We were there for the for the "Your Next Move" event.  High school seniors across the county were bussed in to talk to those of us assembled there--and what a varied assembly we were.  You'd expect to find lots of colleges and schools, but I was surprised how many industries were there, looking for young workers.

I was surprised by what they wore, but I'm not sure why.  Many of the females were dressed in professional clothes:  dresses or a skirt and top and moderate heels with a jacket.  Very few were dressed in what I think of as Miami high fashion:  very high heels and skimpy clothes.  About half the males were dressed in interview clothes, while the rest wore jeans and t-shirts.

Those of us at the tables were wearing our professional costumes, mostly in the shape of branded clothes.  It could be worse.

All of my clothing observations took me back to a poem I wrote years ago. It's a poem which reflects on the differences between the life of monks, particularly in the area of clothing, and the life of women in the weekly world.  I originally titled it "Monk's Habits," but I think I like "Monastic Habits" better.

Monastic Habits

To put on a robe that would forgive
her for a heavy meal, so unlike
her tailored suits. A robe made of rough
material, no need of special laundering.
Goodbye to astronomical dry cleaning bills.
No worrying about matching accessories.
Always a drab color, day after day.

That robe could buy her anonymity,
invisibility in the world,
no eyes disrobing her, no leers.
That robe declaring her off limits.

And housework, those boring tasks, always renewing
themselves, would confer spiritual
discipline, instead of complaints about her ineptitude.

Even silence, that vow which mystified
her teenage self, more so even than chastity,
now calls to her. She sees herself enshrouded in silence,
no carping, complaining, or criticizing.
She sees herself surrounded by like-minded companions,
rising early in common pursuit, breathing
air perfumed by incense and rising bread dough,
as prayers rise to the heavens.

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