by more than white nightgowns,
which slip into the curves and waves
of her shoulders and hips, the nubbins
of her spine. A wedding dress huddles
in the corner, all taffeta, satin,
and lace trim. Headless, handless,
it stands expectantly, without bouquet.

His clothes crowd the hangers
and the hooks. Each garment, like his
gray flannel suit, with its jacket and slacks
pressed and creased to perfection, retains
his outward shape. The topcoat
has tucked one sleeve into its pocket
as he had so often done.

Other clothes follow suit, know that
to stay in one place is to go nowhere.
Biding their time—this is what’s meant
by benign neglect—waiting for the moment
when the door will open and they can leap
at the chance to address the body
that gives them purpose, a chance to advance.

Deborah H. Doolittle has lived in lots of different places, but now calls North Carolina home. Some of her poems have recently appeared (or will soon appear) in Albatross, Blue Unicorn, Evening Street Review, The Journal (Wales), Quiet Diamonds, Kakalak, Thema, and in audio format on The Writer’s Almanac.