Papier-mache body; blue-and-black cotton jersey cover. Metal stand.
Instructions included.

— Sears, Roebuck Catalogue

O my coy darling, still
You wear for me the scent
Of those long afternoons we spent,
The two of us together,
Safe in the attic from the jealous eyes
Of household spies
And the remote buffooneries of the weather;
So high,
Our sole remaining neighbor was the sky,
Which, often enough, at dusk,
Leaning its cloudy shoulders on the sill,
Used to regard us with a bored and cynical eye.

How like the terrified,
Shy figure of a bride
You stood there then, without your clothes,
Drawn up into
So classic and so strict a pose
Almost, it seemed, our little attic grew
Dark with the first charmed night of the honeymoon.
Or was it only some obscure
Shape of my mother’s youth I saw in you,
There where the rude shadows of the afternoon
Crept up your ankles and you stood
Hiding your sex as best you could?–
Prim ghost the evening light shone through.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Donald Justice's poem Ode To A Dressmaker’s Dummy


  1. Jeff says:

    hey tom, i think you need to look more into the rhyme scheme and its effects. there’s more to it than you think. also, make sure to spell weak correctly before criticising.

  2. heatherfeather says:

    i really enjoyed this poem at first but then at the end i got a little creeped out
    not that i dont understand the depth of it its just that im a feather and it said the word sex so

  3. tom l says:

    The rhyme scheme in this poem seems to me at first reading forced – eyes, spies, and the comma after the second line etc seem week. However it is all a sarcastic take on being in love with a dummy – do other readers think that the rhyme scheme is designed to heighten the sense of the fake ness and ridiculousness of the narrators love and longing – or is it just the best that Don J could do?

    I liked the oedipal link, and the transparency and illusion of the love object – captured in the last line and provoking in me as reader questions of the reality of my own memories and remembered “loves.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Donald Justice better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.