‘A commodity’s market success depends on the erasure of the marks of production, any trace of indexicality, the grime of the factory … and most of all, the exploitation of the worker. Instead, the commodity presents the market with a seductive sheen, as it competes to be desired.’

Laura Mulvey, Fetishism and Curiosity



We are bound, she and I, by inevitable threads;
by the incessant warp of economy,
by the indifferent weft of fate,
the thread spins, the world turns

In the harbourside wharf, converted to a mall,
I lose my bearings; all at sea
in the swill of choice, there’s no thing I want
the clothes, not cheap enough for how cheap they look

Yet the maker, neck bowed, over machines,
in slums, in cities,
distant enough from my own; I’m not supposed to care
she’s the calamity of my convenience,
the labour for my leisure
The maker, stitching edges of silk together
isn’t making her ends meet, isn’t making a living,
and who makes the maker’s clothes?

Drowning in the seaside mall,
Buyer beware: fabric may fade,
No refund for change of mind,
belly-up in the flotsam of consumerism,
The jetsam of infinite need for variety,
I find nothing that fits; it’s a first-world catastrophe
that belies her sweat on my sweater,
her blood, scrubbed from the needle

I am the middle-class signifier of economic growth,
I am the consuming woman
Working hard to make a buying, buying hard to work a living
I am patriarchy’s perfect accessory
I would not know her face, but
my hands, touching the trace of her hands
upon the dress I slip over my skin
is our unacknowledged handshake

Signed off by corpulent men
in sleek offices
behind closed doors: Board Members Only
We never approved the agenda

We’ve never met, yet together, we are bound
The thread spins, the world turns,
I, the consuming woman,
She, the woman consumed


Melissa Coffey


Melissa Coffey is a Melbourne-based writer and poet, engaging strongly with themes of the Feminine. Her memoir story ‘Motherlines’, awarded Highly Commended, was published in Australian anthology Stew and Sinkers (Stringybark Stories 2013) and her creative essay ‘Body Com/Positions’ features in Etchings ‘Visual Eyes’ (Ilura Press #12). Melissa has twice been a Featured Performer for Mother Tongue (Melbourne).

© 2018