The Tailor

(in which a man “of the cloth” experiences a seam-splitting epiphany)

The tailor plied his trade for years –

a craft he chose o’er all careers –
and kept his shop on Fashion Street
where loyal clients he would meet. 
He stocked his buttons, threads, and lace
and reams of cloth o’erflowed the place:
from cottons, linens, wool, and silk,
to plaids and pleats of every ilk,
including leathers, knits, and felts
for molding caps and shoes and belts.
He had a special stool made flat,

where he could stand, but often sat,

to stretch the tape and bite the pins

while eyeing forearms, waists, and shins.
He’d chastely measure bosom vast
or round the groin from fore to ast,
from inseams, out seams, cuffs and necks:
a string of numbers most complex
he would compile for each request
to fashion clothes to fit their best.  

Il Tagliapanni (The Tailor), Giovanni Battista Moroni
The tailor’s fame grew day by day.
The most discerning folks would pay
his price to craft their bespoke clothes.
A playwright was but one of those –
he asked the tailor leave his store
to come backstage, since there were more
than twenty actors’ outfits sought
for men and women, to be bought.
The tailor brought his tape, and pen, 
and pad to note their measures, when
he stepped behind the curtained stage
and dropped the pen, the tape, and page.
For there before him stood a score
of naked folk – no clothes they wore.
Artistes,” the playwright said. “To bare
the flesh is one costume they wear.
Be calm. They’re used to it.” Indeed
the tailor spied no shame nor need
to cover up, but only pride
in form and fitness, hair and hide. 
“Oh, what a piece of work is man!”
the playwright cried. “And woman! And
the paragon of animals!
Each virtue humankind fulfills.”
And then, the tailor lost his mind, or so it
seemed as he began to run from one thespian to another as they posed and stretched, and he was muttering
incoherently and even
shouting at times that the sleeve and pant are nought 
but tubes to hide arm and leg,
and the knee and 
elbow need room to operate unencumbered,
that no cloth should breech the buttocks as the 
crowning glory of the legs, 
that the most intricately designed gusset falls
short of the armpit and is absolutely inferior in every way to the
vulva, that the brassiere is a mere contrivance, a cantilever dependent
entirely on the breasts’ magnificent
heft, that the heel and the toes suffer and chafe when feet are shod, and that
walking in shoes is like sewing while wearing mittens,
that even a codpiece-fitted pantaloon fails to accommodate,
much less accentuate, the shifting states of
the penis and the scrotum,
that no demon could contrive such evil as to entrap
the wonder of the
neck in tight ruffles,
that the nipples are the most glorious of buttons as adornment,
and that the navel is quite frankly the most
superb of un-buttons, and that when the navel is unbuttoned
the waist and the abdomen are freed to a much more perfect
function…

Exhausted, he knelt to the stage,
and felt his clothing like a cage.
He feebly made to rend his pants
and join the actors in their dance.
But short of breath, he could not grasp
a thing. “Please help,” he faintly gasped.
And quick the actors came to aid
the tailor to his tailor-made,
his birthday suit they helped expose.
At last he to his feet arose,
and spoke these words: “Dear playwright, friends:
Just like a needle, with thread, mends,
I lacked the sharp prick of your frank
display of chest and groin and flank
to understand my craft anew.
Your costumes I will make for you,
if you will stage your comedy
with clothes, but also nudity.”

It was agreed. And to the stage,
with all the tailor’s patronage,
attended crowds to see and learn
that to our bodies we should turn
not with disgust or shameful face
but awe and thanks and love and grace.

Al natural, by Venezuelan playwright José Vicente Díaz Rojas

2 thoughts on “The Tailor

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