Michelle Winkler, “Sonnet for 2020”
Will you speak for us all, dear Dorian?
Of days gone by, of now… and what comes next…
For you, too, perfect attic mannequin
Enveloped in the grays of time and sex.
Beneath the resilient bow of hope and fears
Headdress of femininity and fields-
Behemoth shadow of lecherous jeers
And all the cold-weighted chains history yields.
Linked maille bodice, slight antebellum waist,
O keeper of secrets, millennials’ muse,
Your sultry slit will be slut-shamed in haste
But your daughter is heir to sensible shoes.
To be clear: backhand equity will be fought
And pride reclaimed… whether you tell or not.
Contest Judge Stephen Gibson says, “This work, as the gown-on-mannequin construction that it responds to, is formal to the point of mannerism, with that formalism-mannerism, as in Sonya Sanchez Arias’s piece, undercutting each other. The gown is late 19th century, as is the Dorian Gray title and Oscar Wilde allusion, but the material of it is not. So too, the poem: a conventional-looking sonnet that strikes at the conventional: the past may try to hide but will give up its secrets.”
Michelle Winkler is a Professor of English at Palm Beach State College. She holds an MA in English and a Doctorate in Education.