Each pattern slipped long ago into its own paper sleeve
Decorated with a pastel washed and ink-lined vision
Of the future in this skirt or suit
One for every size and stage of life
Careful maps of manufacture
On brittled paper, too fragile now
Even to survive a pen’s crisp tip.
One can understand why the proprietor
Is loathe to give them up, pack them into cartons
Release them to the antique dealer who will admire
Their anachronistic charm, or simply resign them to the curb.
He is as dusty as his dusty shelves, tired of tending
And too tired to give up. People have come to help,
Young people who can imagine but not yet know
The dejection, the shame.
He doesn’t want their good intentions, their optimism.
He’s comfortable with the discomfort of the dust
He knows. But oh, the letting go.