Simone de Beauvoir’s Warning

Kevin Roberts strides into the Adidas store
meets a fired-up assistant, spends

US$600 and bounces down Wooster Street.
I buy one pair and want to pump

submachine bullets into a Coke machine.
The holy wars of Pepsi and Coke

or wearing – I’m the victim – the name
of the Grand Inquisitor over my heart

like a sulphur tabard and paying for
the privilege. Simone de Beauvoir wrote

of the desirable purchase and its props
then, unwrapping it to find, deceased

all the ambience of Printemps: the mannequin,
the lighting, the fake cloth autumn leaves

and the crowds that gazed at it. And I –
quelle chance – am privileged to buy it. The

wrapping by the assistant kept up the pretence.
I see her still, all scented obedience

as she bends over fine layers of tissue
ties a ribbon to hook around my finger.

The cynosure of all eyes I leave the store
carrying a chalice: Hermes, Lacoste, Dior

only to get it home and find it’s fled.
Just another coat hanger, un autre jour.

I need to shop again to recover it.
An endless Visa charging of Oh la las

until the cemetery. One brand, my name
upon a stone and the dates I was alive to shop.

Elizabeth Smither

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