On the Catwalk – Frances Rouse

For Mary White and David Suzuki

Welcome ladies and gentlemen
to our parade whose theme this year is:
Erosion as a Manufacturing Process.
You will have noticed the surface layer
of soils once nurturing grasses
    tall as a man in the saddle,
now only support laboratory crops.
And though Earth still compulsively
siphons off moisture from cyclones
    staggering into the coast,
Google Weather is our way of pretending
    it’s for us …

But meanwhile our designers’ collections
wait in the wings:
first, we have Holocene’s white cotton singlets,
that superficial-layer-as-‘civilization’,
once underwear now overwear,
ideal for the predicted warmer summers
and hard yakka of domesticating animals.
Next, Pleistocene’s fake-fur coats,
(your choice of animal pattern,)
just the thing for the ‘improved’ people called Man
to survive the great southern Ice Age.
And you will definitely need Pliocene’s long-sleeve-T
in subtle salmon and terracotta,
for your life as Australopithecus
combatting ‘modern-type’ animals.

For increased volcanic activity
on evenings when India collides with Asia,
Miocene now present light celadon jackets
exquisitely embroidered with long-legged waterbirds
in silver thread, and complemented
with necklaces of miniature whales,
sabre-tooth’d cats, elephants and apes.
Next, Oligocene’s heavy cable sweaters
knitted in earthy tones from the hair
of primates and grass-eating mammals –
notice the decoration of feathers
hand-plucked from ‘modern-type’ birds.
And finally, designed especially
for the first primates’ new tropical conditions,
we present Eocene’s jungle-green T-shirts
screenprinted with early flowering plants,
perfect for that photo opportunity
with emerging rhinoceros or horse …

Other collections not shown today
but available in your nearest department store,
include blankets stitched
with a border of flying reptiles
by that inveterate toiler Cretaceous;
sheets patterned with the delicate footprints
of dinosaurs by our old favourite Jurassic;
and of course, to negotiate the split of Pangaea,
crocodile-skin boots by Triassic
We also planned to show the museum work
of Permian, Carboniferous, Devonian,
Silurian, Ordovician and Cambrian,
but there’s always another stitch
    in Time.