These strong, multilayered poems test the transformative powers of dressmakers, jewelers, actors, and Darwin’s darkest finches as they adapt to a changing world where the same train hurtles past them toward marketplace and death camp both. Throughout, many of the poems use inherited forms to tell their stories, but the inheritance here comes down damaged and threadbare—yet full of power.
In Worth Robyn Schiff inquires about making, buying, selling, and stealing in the material world, the natural landscape, and the human soul. Opening with the renowned couture house of Charles Frederick Worth, the father of high fashion— “The dress was so big, / one's hand is useless to take glass from table; / the skirt approaches while the hand is yet distanced” —and ending with the House of De Beers and a diamond thief named Adam Worth— “You'll know me by my approach / I'm coming on foot with a diamond in my mouth” —Schiff moves from Cartier and Tiffany to the Shedd Aquarium, from Marie Antoinette to the Civil War, from Mary Pickford to Marilyn Monroe.
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Adam Worth aligning her compact beak behaved improperly today Bernhardt bird bonsai bridge button Cartier Chanel cofﬁn Cohen compact mirror crease dark Dawn Gate devil ﬁnch diamond Diamonds cut door drape empty eyes feather feeding ﬁeld ﬁlm ﬁnal ﬁnch’s ﬁnd ﬁreﬂy ﬁrst ﬁt ﬂash ﬂight ﬂow ﬂower ﬂy folded Garden glass glove Goddess of Mercy gold graphite Gypsy Rose hand hatchet hear Helen Helen Jewett hold horse House of Versace House of Worth Hoxie’s inside Iowa kind as Stella King’s Kuhl House Poets lace legs lifted light locked look Lucia ﬁnch Margaret Lockwood Mark Levine Mary Pickford morning mouth night onyx pears platinum post ofﬁce red-footed red-footed booby reﬂected rewind Robins Rosenberg Sarah Bernhardt scene ship shoe shy as Unity someone stairs Stella Maris string Theater There’s thread Tiffany & Co Unity Blake Vampire Finch watches window woodpecker ﬁnch worn