Fashion Retrospective

It was never about the suit… it was about
moving into a man’s world—
Lapels aped a feminine neckline
beyond braless.

It was never about the suit…
the dark, sleek slacks, softly draped,
the shoulder pad 80’s when women
walked boldly into boardrooms and still
found they were the silent minority.

It was never about the suit…
Or the man-tailored blouse,
the hand-me-down fashion that
defeminized Dress for Success.

Sure, one could skirt the issue,
modeling masculine.

It was always about fitting in,
striving for pay equal to a man,
being passed over for the promotion,
told it wasn’t yet your time.

It was always about being female,

It was about the ceiling being glass.
Women could see through it.
Look, don’t touch!
one of the girls, not one of the guys.
It was never about the suit.

Lorraine Walker Williams


A Sampling of Lorraine's Poetry

Lorraine Walker Williams

I Wish I Had Better Sins
from Split Poems

I wish I had better sins than not pleasing you.
Mea culpa. Let me offer the sin of lust desiring
to be loved above all else or that nasty sin of lying
tucked with tassels of truth like a silly hat.

I wish I had better sins than anger sputtering words,
black and sticky on the tongue. Please give me
the sin of greed, avarice like a cocktail
served with crushed ice to settle my alarming need.

I wish for the sin of gluttony, wantonly eating and
drinking to distress. Allow me to lounge across the
table and overeat my words and vomit them on
your plate. Forgive my gross lack of better sins.

I am distracted by envy and her green-sequined sister,
jealousy gossiping about my sloth of better sins.
Help me to reach the epitome of hate or murder
although I know I will never learn to fire a gun.

Do I wish I had lied or been unfaithful?
No, I must confess I am only guilty of pride and
slow to understand all the sin you tried to hide—
I wish I could offer you better sins.

Lorraine Walker Williams

Award Winning Poet

Seeking Shells

Lorraine Walker Williams

About the poem:This poem began as an observation of the simple act of braiding hair. Since the poem is written in sestina form, the six end words of the first verse have to follow a pattern and repeat as end words in the next 5 stanzas. This challenged me to expand images and move in new directions until the last 3 lines which bring us back to the simple act of braiding.

On the beach a blowout tide—
Sandbars, tide pools, Gulf water

recedes exposing live shells
scattering late afternoon light.

Eyes fixed on finding tiny olive,
limpet shells that will drop through

the narrow neck of a bottle
to be carried away to mountains.

With each careful choosing,
a shell holds sea’s memory.

One live shell wiggles free and
I cast it into the shallows,

soon swallowed by waves
secure offshore.

Mid-summer when I miss
the ocean most these tide tossed

shells pull me back—
splashing salt water,

walking wet sand barefoot,
holding the sea in my hand.

Woman in Black

Woman in black with long, blonde hair,
serpentine shadow slinks gray-white,
slips from the painter’s brush to stare

like Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Stair.
Shattered yet focused, eyes like night,
woman in black with long, blonde hair.

Head tilted forward, nostrils flared,
silenced in paint, crimson lips tight,
glides from the artist’s brush to stare

from pale canvas with eyes that dare
to speak her words, to claim her right.
Woman in black with long, blonde hair,

Mona Lisa in swift repair.
Her smile beguiles, her moment ripe,
slides from the painter’s brush, to stare,

to mark, to trace across space where
the palette masks her form in flight.
Woman in black with long, blonde hair,
slips through the artist’s brush, beware.

Lorraine Walker Williams


To place, slip seeds into moist soil,
shutter from light, incubate and wait.
To plant is the first lesson in patience.

Plant, as a particular phylum and
species, ornamental, cleansing air,
bringing outdoors in. For Feng Shui,
a plant is a lesson in placement.

Plant, as in yourself on the couch,
a park bench, or a bumpy bus.
An attempt to be rooted in time and
space, a lesson in belonging.

Plant, an implant, something foreign,
a replacement or enhancement,
as in tooth or breast. This teaches

Plant includes the word plan—
Making and revising,
following or ignoring a plan,
a lesson in flexibility.

Plant words flowing and growing
from the hand of a poet,
the lesson of jasmine and plums.

Lorraine Walker Williams


Pay attention to the wisp
of hanging thread on the hem
or a loose button on slacks—
beginning the unraveling unnoticed
until hem sags or button
clicks on the floor or worse, is lost.

Seems like such a tiny thing,
like air moved by a butterfly wing
can build a breeze, become wind,
toss trees or fan a fire’s loss.
Rain spills, soaks hills,
runs downstream, overflows,
destroys dreams.

So it seems in a relationship,
unraveling begins from within—
a word spoken or left unsaid,
a heart  broken, a turn of the head.
Missed cues accrue and a bond
becomes undone.

Yet sun and tides will rise,
a wound heals then renews.
After roses bloom with stems cut,
a bud forms along with thorns,
unfurls, spills perfume, soon fills
the darkest heart with stars and moon
unraveling into spring.

Lorraine Walker Williams

Two Braids: A Sestina

Her child’s hair wet from the shower,
the mother’s fingers caress her head,
comb out tangles, separate
long strands, twist one on another.
The child holds her head still
as braiding rhythm repeats.

Her grandmother watches a pattern repeat,
brushing her daughter’s hair after a shower,
wrapping her close, wanting time to stand still.
Soap clean, she kisses her head.
Her child grows, years fold one to another,
mother and child like two braids, separate,
like sun and falling rain separate.
Days and seasons repeat,
streaming one to another.
Clouds, heavy with rain before a shower,
undone like braids on the head.
Hair falls free, air becomes still.

 Grandmother’s hands still
remember silk strands separate
like moonlight on water at the head
of the bay. Wave after wave repeats
tide’s ebb and flow, showers
starlight from night.  Other

voices summon the days, other
dreams fade from light, still
the grandmother showers
love on the child, cannot separate
the braid she weaves and repeats
through time and space in her head
to breath’s rise and fall of the child’s head.
Distance carries one away from the other.
The braid spins out, rhythm repeats
flutters on feathered wings. Still,
their hearts never unravel or separate,
love steady as rain in a shower

forms a rainbow, shines on the child’s head still.
A mother separates one fine strand from another,
fresh from the shower, braid upon braid repeats.

Lorraine Walker Williams