At the mall, the suits I try on for my best friend’s
wedding remind me of trying to look good
for my wife, and I picture the closets suddenly
empty, the TV stand dusty except where the TV
sat. We expected happiness, hoped
and prayed for it each night in bed
when we’d make love and cuddle despite
the fights, but the guy who helped her move out,
I’m sure, boned her three days prior,
somewhere in the Adirondacks. And after
he dropped a heap of her clothes on the way
out to her car, he offered me a cigarette.
I almost expected him to kill me, a coup de grace
after one last smoke. I took it, lit it, sucked it down,
and when she asked if she could use my bike rack
I said no, stomped out the butt, went inside,
and locked the door. So I’m trying on suits.
I’m not even thirty and I make enough
to eat and keep an internet connection,
but I know a suit is more display of vanity
than I can afford. Behind me,
the salesman blocks me in the three-way mirror
and strokes my shoulders, says, This is all wool,
traditional fit, and I look like a blue box with legs
that’d strike out with every girl at every bar
in town. I grimace at myself, my unkempt beard
and ponytail, still uncut since that night
Dean came over and helped me pick a new bedspread
and drink all the booze she left behind.
We chopped wood in the basement, slamming
the axe down hard enough to crack
the foundation, then built a fire to burn
the label off each bottle before smashing them all
in the driveway. The salesman wants me to try
a different suit, something economical, all-purpose,
and once I’m staring at myself again, he tells me
about his sons, always looking down
when they should face the mirror. My hands
still have the cuts, the splinters. I follow him
around the racks, unhemmed pants picking up
the mall-floor crap, shirt untucked, thinking
about what broke: bad sex, no sex, bills,
and no time to make dinner so the beloved
will stop yelling at you. He says, This is the right one,
perfect for a wedding, and shoves a hideous brown suit
in my arms. I try it on, and, back in the mirror,
he pins the hem up, chalks the calf, and tells me
how long the polyester-rayon blend should last.

Christopher Dollard

Christopher Dollard’s work has recently appeared in Barrow StreetThe Little Patuxent ReviewRedactions: Poetry & Poetics, and the Watershed Review. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where he slings steak and wine as a waiter to support his writing habit.