The Absent Tailor
Was it the accidental jabs in the thumb or the awkwardness of
or the machine, coughing on thread, wheeled over its black
that made the tailor fatally slice the wrinkled skin of his
He processed seersucker, tulle, satin embroidered with
lace, ribbons, silky chrysanthemums,
sewing, at times with pricked fingers, hearts made of velvet.
The Singer tick-tocked
along, threading time towards
the peculiar singularity of extinction.
Make no mistake, none of this reveals much.
He worked the Singer for twenty years,
listened to Fairouz twice as long.
The home front was no more chaotic than before,
kids expenses in keeping with inflation,
wife faithful, weather stable,
parents firmly underground.
No note was recovered, no explanation designed to extract
Just a decided absence, a hole punched through the cloth.
He fell backward, wiry calves draped over the stool's legs.
The treadle rotated for
several thousand microseconds in his absence.
I used to pass the shop window on my way.
Faded is the image I hold of him
hunched over the machine.
A glimpse from a dusty century.
Famished was his frame,
sadness languished in the pools of his eyes
or could this be
a reinterpretation of the written scenes?
At end of day,
his bony arms stretched
up towards the metal grate. He bowed down
for us, his grateful audience.
This rare, inconsequential man folded
himself, neat as a pile of shirts freshly pressed,
into a wooden box, pre-paid for, forever in darkness
Fairouz slurred her song towards the end,
as her voice chewed through the haggard tape
that had always threatened to snap.
If you've any comments on this poem, Hassan Abdulrazzak would be
pleased to hear from you.