Ah, yes, here it is, the day when the colors disappear.

November to January, the hibernation months.

What’s the strategy this year, do I surrender, or fight?

In the morning I dress myself in layers of grey

as grim as the resonating clouds, then head

into the studio to choose colors for my next dress.

I am looking for the coldest purple I can find.

When I find the one that best matches the season,

I look again, close my eyes, feel into my body,

and choose a bright rich gold to set off the purple,

warm it a bit. The way I warm my cold toes

before bed these nights. At dinner I will light

candles, even though I am alone in the house.



This morning I put on the pants I printed

with green vines climbing up the legs, and

before I even finished my morning tea,

I was planting the sprouted garlic

in a pot and putting it on the windowsill.

Last night a serious friend made a

bawdy joke. The laughter she and I

planted together is still sending up green

shoots this morning. I finally cut a stencil,

another leaf pattern, for the fabric

I washed and soaked, how many weeks

ago now? Wormwood leaf, for clear vision.

Outside it’s November. Here inside I am

looking forward to fresh garlic scapes in my

soup by the time it gets really cold.



Every time I ask myself how I’m doing,

I hear myself say to myself, I’m a mess.

And then I say back to myself, I’m not a mess,

really, I’m holding it together, doing okay

at this business of learning to live alone.

See, I put clothes on in the morning,

just like a normal person. See, the way

the sleeves and the pant legs are a little short,

that’s a look, I could have cut them longer

if I wanted. I like the way they hint at the kid

who has outgrown last year’s wardrobe,

the monk more intent on exploring silence

than updating the outfit. So what if it also says

I’m not entirely at ease in the world right now.

A little awkward. A little ahead of myself.

A little cold. Not a mess, not exactly.



Sometimes the light

is what reminds me to trust

the day. Dye something

warm strong gold

and remember I wanted

to be here. Sometimes

the feel of the fabric on my skin

is enough to bring me back

to my heart

and soothe it open again.

Nothing is promised.

But this morning

everything is possible.



First winter storm of the season. I’m at the big window,

watching, even though the drama is happening

over in the east mountains. Here in the valley all we are seeing

is a delicate cold drizzle. I love this light. It clarifies.

Under the soft thick clouds there is less distinction between

shadow and bright spot, our eyes are not dazzled by the sun,

it’s easier to see into the deep corners. The cold hasn’t really

hit yet, but the day still calls for soft colors, warm fleshy pink,

cloudy grey, and a hemline that drops almost to the ankles.

A dress you can snuggle up in, a personal comfort zone

from which to watch the coming storm.



We were not particularly good to each other

at the end. I always dreamed that as we aged

we would move into serenity, smiling quietly

at each other as we shared our daily reports.

Turns out you wanted to keep running on adrenaline,

devouring the world and me with it, claiming it all

as yours. And I couldn’t let you swallow me, so I

stuck myself in your face and refused to disappear.

In the end we were clunky, disjointed, like a mismatched

outfit, green floral pants with a heavy pink top.

The patriarchal marriage unresolved, forty years on.

I had intended to outmaneuver it.

You always did move faster.



Elisabeth Horst

Elisabeth Horst


I make my own clothes and write about the process. Among other things.