Today I bought a dress. It was displayed inside an open steamer trunk—the fancy kind with a miniature built-in closet and collapsible wooden clothes hangers. At first, I thought the garment was a blouse, because everything from the waist down was pooled in the depths of the trunk. The young woman tending the store called it a “tea dress” as she carefully lifted it out. It was made in the late 1930s or early 1940s—black rayon with a panel of cream-colored cotton lace on the breast. One of the side seams had come apart slightly, and the original shoulder pads were wizened with age and dangling by threads. But I saw that the split could be mended and the pads removed altogether, and the dress was otherwise in perfect condition.
Anne Pierson Wiese received the Academy of American Poets Walt Whitman Award for her collection, Floating City (Louisiana State University Press, 2007). She has also been the recipient of a poetry fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and a Discovery/The Nation prize. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Hudson Review, Raritan, Southern Review, Antioch Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among others. She and her husband, writer Ben Miller, recently moved from New York City to South Dakota, where she is working on prose as well as poetry.