The Nature of Mannequins
Travis Mossotti

The Nature of Mannequins

Past the Kangol hat shop, gelateria, and Ethiopian
restaurant, I knelt down to tie my shoe—

water shouldering a coffee cup in the gutter—
and found, as I rose, two mannequins

decorating a storefront window:          male
and female,      sensibly dressed to match

the red brick and mortar that framed them. If it
had been an avenue in a more celebrated district

with lithe mannequins garbed in luxuries
meant for the aristocracy, I might’ve contemplated

the nature of mannequins, might’ve even suggested
that such manifestations were like the sexless

winged perfection of angels, but these two
were not the bastions of some French

designer’s spring collection. No, these
were secondhand stand-ins, one outfit shy

of oblivion, a million miles from the craftsman’s
workshop; and yet, there they were, immortal forms,

fingertips still inexplicably on the verge of touch.

Travis Mossotti

is the author, most recently, of Narcissus Americana (University of Arkansas Press, 2018), winner of the Miller Williams Poetry Prize. He teaches at Webster University and works for Washington University in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.