One Dress by Hannah Stephenson


Listen to the Audio: One Dress

One Dress
A Myth

When a girl is born,
layers of her soul are stripped off
and sent into the atmosphere.

The lady-shaped shadows
flutter out into tailors’ workshops
and textile factories, into

closets and shops
where garments dangle, bodiless
skins. Like dress patterns,

the cross-sections of soul
crinkle as they meet fabric, pressing
themselves into being.

There comes a time
in a girl’s life when a gown is needed.
She will be married,

or will attend a grand
dance or party. There is only one dress
for her, and it waits

for her to select it, to
occupy its fabric as muscles stretch flesh.
If she chooses the right

dress, that one dress
lined with her soul, she will know it
by her anatomy’s instant

and perfect alignment.
She will know that she has been formed
in order to fill it out.

Image Credit: Kimberly Brooks, “Janie Bryant,” Costume Designer for Mad Men, 24 x 32 in. Oil on Linen.
Kimberly Brooks is a painter and new media artist, and is represented by Taylor De Cordoba in Culver City. Her most recent exhibition, “The Stylist Project,” is a series of portraits depicting well-known stylists and trendsetters. In addition to creating visual art, Brooks is the Arts Editor for the Huffington Post, has published many essays and interviews, and gives lectures at universities and museums. To see more of her work, visit


  1. October 18, 2010 @ 9:38 am ‘One Dress’ by Hannah Stephenson « Whale Sound

    […] Hannah Stephenson poem text 1 min 20 […]

  2. October 18, 2010 @ 4:16 pm Annie

    This is one of my favorite poems, and Hannah Stephenson is one of my favorite poets. I enjoyed the reading. Thank you for featuring Hannah’s work.

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