poem04 Jul 2022 10:28 am
‘Youth’ 150 x 130 cm, Oil on linen by Hennie Niemann jnr, 2019, (illustration on creative commons license)

Sarah Shirley

Camera flashes, crimson sashes on a catwalk in Shanghai,
the newest line of fashion on the newest line of models
fresh from the grow-vats. Tall ones, short ones, 
slim and plump ones, faces engineered to a 
blank smear onto which the audience can 
project their own features using the handy goggles 
from the gift bags: this is how you’ll really look 
in the season’s latest offerings! Bass notes pumped 
in are hypnotic and everything is energy and striding
strutting motion, the mannequins marching the
precise measurements of the walkway, no need for 
eyeballs - their feet have been told where to go. Concern
was raised a while ago, but quickly put to rest - 
no humans were harmed in the making, my friend! 
They come unstoppable, stalking the floorboards
draped in silks, wrapped in satin, strapped in leather,
and when a Float-Cam stutters and sparks nobody 
notices, not until the flames lick up the cheap material
of the sashes, turning them into ash and smoke. The
hall empties out, a thunderstorm of pounding footfalls 
and shrieks, but the models march on in the thickening
fog, driven the fifty meters from the curtain to the end
by instructions hardwired into nerve and muscle,
and the meaty beat of a porcine heart.

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