Each pattern slipped long ago into its own paper sleeve

Decorated with a pastel washed and ink-lined vision

Of the future in this skirt or suit

One for every size and stage of life

Careful maps of manufacture

On brittled paper, too fragile now

Even to survive a pen’s crisp tip.

One can understand why the proprietor

Is loathe to give them up, pack them into cartons

Release them to the antique dealer who will admire

Their anachronistic charm, or simply resign them to the curb.

He is as dusty as his dusty shelves, tired of tending

And too tired to give up. People have come to help,

Young people who can imagine but not yet know

The dejection, the shame.

He doesn’t want their good intentions, their optimism.

He’s comfortable with the discomfort of the dust

He knows. But oh, the letting go.