On the top floor I happened on a dress:
shot silk with an overlay
of muslin drenched in beads.
On the price-tag, a cursive Hand-Embellished
defended the outrageous figure asked.

Little spheres the colour of water,
dredged in their thousands from a stream,
mingled with spangles skimmed
from the surface. On the underside,
grey threads crossed like paths in a forest.

In the constellation of the beads
I divined a subtle, satisfying pattern.
I loved how laden the dress was.
I could almost feel it swish about my legs,
smoothing flesh. I reached in.
Made in India, the label said.

I felt a documentary in my brain—
the wide river where the dead are waked,
a thin ten-year-old hunched
in a corner, her gaze touching
the camera, her ragged fingertips
forever chasing a wild needle.

I held the dress at arm’s length while cold
light through plate-glass filmed my face.
I parked it on the rail and checked my bag
to see if I had brought my credit card.

When I looked up, a woman was walking away,
her back a quick, determined cypher,
the dress in her arms,
a child fished from a pond,
lolling and dripping
money and light all over the shop.