Looking For Coco – Channeling Chanel.


Looking for Coco

I never could channel my inner Chanel.
I never could actually find
my inner Chanel. But my mother who used to
take me to
department stores each Saturday when
I was little, while she tried on this pale suit and
that dark dress, pivoting before the glass (front
and back) in her best smile, seemed to have a very
clear Coco, so I have to think that if I just look hard enough, starting
at the heels of my orthotic-ed oxfords, through the
ribs of my bunched wool
ankle socks, all the way
to the brush of cowlick at my crown,
taking a brief, but thorough peek,
below the bruised elastic of sports
bra, I would find some deep smidgen of
But, until I do (if ever), I must content myself with
the occasional sniff of those teeny square
bottles, the sampler-sized Number 5s,
my mother saved, tucked
in the side of her jewelry case, their
scent not fading even when
the perfume itself
is long long gone.


I’m posting the above for Tess Kincaid’s Magpie Tales, where Tess posts a photo prompt.  (I’ve done my own version of the photo.)  I am also linking to the Imaginary Garden With Real Toads Open Link NIght.

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33 Comments on “Looking For Coco – Channeling Chanel.”

  1. Laurie Kolp Says:

    Haha… I had to laugh because I can so relate to this! Love it.

  2. Tess Kincaid Says:

    Lovely coming of age thing…Coco lurks…but not many of use find her…

  3. i love this take on the prompt…a different kind of love

  4. brian miller Says:

    smiles..there is magic in those bottles…you very gently touch the awkwardness of wanting to grow up but having to wait for it in time…and at times not feeling pretty but holding out hope for tomorrow…

  5. I love your line breaks best of all. There is so much to play with when you format like this. For example:

    “I never could actually find
    my inner Chanel. But my mother who used to
    take me to” … This makes it clear that although you could not find yours, your mother could (find yours/hers/both) … while still stating that she took you to department stores. With careful line breaks, you can create multiple poems/subtexts within one piece.

    Or like here:
    “that dark dress, pivoting before the glass (front
    and back)” … Because of your line break, I also read “pivoting before the glass-front” (as in storefront), meaning that she was comfortable prancing around and showing off her outfits in front of the world (not just the mirrors).

    Or in this line:
    “so I have to think that if I just look hard enough, starting” … I think of a person starting a new job (or relationship), trying to look “hard” starting out, as if that’s some kind of protection.

    “ribs of my bunched wool
    ankle socks, all the way” … I read this first as a wool sweater bunched around your torso, covering yourself, chaste, hiding … and then the bunched wool ankle socks. But then the break after “all the way” makes me think of “going all the way” and how that relates to an awkward girl in bunchy clothes who doesn’t feel like she can find her inner Chanel. You see? All this layering between the lines, created by the odd line breaks.

    “taking a brief, but thorough peek,
    below the bruised elastic of sports” … There are stories in all of these line breaks that are personal for you. Failings in athletic endeavors, bruised ego, perhaps a peek at a boy or (him at you) during teenaged years.

    “simply sniffing all those teeny square
    bottles my mother saved up, tucked” … Feeling square, following all the rules, bottles of alcohol, plastic surgery … I see all of this here. You may not have “written” it or seen it while writing. But when I see line breaks like this, it turns into what I call “connotation poetry.” So many understories are possible when reading in this way.

    “scent not fading even” … Uneven temperaments, unsteadiness (emotionally, behaviorally, physically), perhaps alcoholism.

    I’m interested to see if you’re just telling one story or if you’re telling more. I’m sure most of what I’ve read is all in my imagination. But it’s fun. 🙂

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much – I am a big believer i the uses of enjambement, and punctuation. And your careful reading is wonderful and very flattering – thanks. I realize I was misleading though in that the square bottles are these teeny little bottles of Chanel Number 5, a super expensive perfume that people used to buy almost as samplers. (Not alcohol.) It has a very distinctive square bottle. I will fix this to make it clearer. Thanks again. k.

      • Oh no, it wasn’t confusing. I totally knew you were talking about the perfume. But the mention of little bottles also made me think of liquor. You were perfectly clear.

  6. Wow, that was really good!

  7. David King Says:

    at the heels of my orthotic-ed oxfords, through the
    ribs of my bunched wool
    ankle socks, all the way
    to the brush of cowlick at my crown,

    This paints such a perfect and very vivid picture. I do believe I’ve got it in one!

  8. Luke Prater Says:

    hehe I really couldn’t stop from laughter at the ‘inner chanel’… quite brilliant… thank you

  9. Sue Anderson Says:

    I love (and could relate to) this poem! I also love what you did with the art…perfect for your take on it.

  10. Helen Says:

    A winner from first word through last! Loved Flipside’s comment!

  11. Mama Zen Says:

    Wow! I totally relate to this one!

  12. I love the way scent lingers in the empty bottles…You capture some with your words…

  13. Sarav Says:

    You really took me back–remembering shopping trips with my mom. A very nicely penned portrait and memories. Well done!

  14. I have had an empty bottle of Yves St Laurent ‘Opium’ for the past 6 years and it is still as strong a scent now as when it did have some in it. Years ago everyone wanted Chanel number 5.. lol It was ‘the’ thing to wear back then. It still a fortune to buy now.
    I enjoyed all of this K

  15. Love this! Great layering of interpretations in this poem. 🙂

  16. i SO LOVE THIS! And I TOTALLY identify with it. My mother was very glamorous, coiffed, dyed, made-up, lipsticked. Me…not so much. I have never been able to do a THING with my hair, refuse to dye it, eschew make-up – totally a wash ‘n wear kinda gal. Clothes are to be comfortable. And loose. Yup. Loved every line. You are singing my song!

  17. vivinfrance Says:

    My Chanel-type-suit -clad Mum, always made-up and high-heeled and my own comfort clothes and Nivea’d skin – you must have written this lovely poem for us! I love the way the flow of your thoughts paints a picture, tells a story.

  18. Little Nell Says:

    This is excellent stuff with so much to admire and appreciate in your wordplay and line breaks. Best of all, however, is the perfectly painted picture.

  19. Berowne Says:

    Bildungsroman, female version – and well crafted.

  20. shanyns Says:

    I am so with you on that – my Mom and Grandma could get Coco in a moment’s notice, me not so much. I can’t do lady couture, but I love the smell of No. 5. Wonderful poem.

  21. kolembo Says:

    Oh it’s gorgeous – and the opening…had me giggling – then laughing! Good stuff, gentle…a whiff of something to think about…

  22. Kutamun Says:

    Seems like she was there all the time, definitely very alive and active, bravo Coco !

  23. kaykuala Says:

    “their scent not fading even when
    the perfume itself is long long gone”

    All goes to show that good things remain in memory when physically they are no more there! Great write K!


  24. Wonderfully evocative k, so identify with ‘the occasional sniff of those teeny square
    bottles, the sampler-sized Number 5s’

  25. ds Says:

    You know, I could smell that No. 5 while I was reading this (my mom’s favorite, too). Hail to the sartorially challenged! But also a glimpse into a profound memory. Well done. Thank you.

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