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Monsour’s “Parking Lot” and the Fitting Rooms

Leslie Monsour is a notable modern poetry writer who connects with the reader through a masterful approach of emphasizing the senses in her poems, and “Parking Lot” is not an exception. The atmosphere of this poem reminded me of the fitting rooms in the clothing stores. These are organized in the same way as the parking lots are, in neat, structured rows along the long middle hall. Moreover, another feeling that the poem evokes is the feeling of a transitionary place, a bridge between point A and point B. The parking lot is not a destination point; it is a storage for the cars, a temporary place to keep the transport safe while one is away. The analogy with the dressing rooms is fitting because they also serve as means rather than ends. In other words, the resemblance between Monsour’s parking lot and the fitting rooms is reflected in the strict building organization and the transitionary purpose of the places.

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The strict horizontal lines of the marked parking space parallel the square changing rooms. Such sharp shape highlights the industrial superiority in the poem: the steel pylons piercing the bright, colorful sky, the red Camaro flushing away the pigeons, the moon “ignored” by the asphalt horizon. For example, the poem starts with a strong, defined image of the parking lot at sunset: “Pylons rebuke dusk’s fair and fragile fire” (Monsour, line 2). The tone of this line is assertive, even aggressive: it becomes so because of the verb “rebuke,” which is a sharp criticism of one’s point. The author contrasts this word with “fragile fire,” which is a slightly contradictory phrase: it is difficult to picture such a harmful and powerful force as fire to be fragile, especially in the context of the sky.

This line evokes the same feeling for me as the hard industrial light in the dressing rooms of cheap clothing stores, which creates strong, outlined shadows of people’s figures, multiplied by the mirrors. Despite that Monsour does not mention any street lights in the poem, the synthetic location reminds me of the stall dividers and how they create the same structured light in each changing room. The fitting rooms are just as organized as the parking lot, and they stand out with their unnatural shape against the chaotic background.

The following scene of nature in “Parking Lot” remains its focus on the sky. The narrator describes the moon: “While this takes place, a tender moon dips toward / The peach and blood horizon, pale, ignored” (Monsour, lines 5-6). These lines continue to pursue the violent reign of the industrial side of the poem, showing the domination of the parking lot over the neglected moon. The horizon is blooded, wounded: the lines reveal a dark and brutal picture, where nature suffers. The fitting rooms I have visited always greeted me with complete isolation from the outside world: they are rooms inside the rooms. Their design can hardly be applied to hostile architecture; however, just as in the poem, their strong industrial affiliation coincides with the state of nature in the parking lot, which is entirely disregarded.

Moreover, Monsour’s poem also channels the feeling of transience and temporariness. The parking lot and the dressing rooms are similar in their purpose because they are meant to accommodate people only for a short period of time. The second stanza captures the narrator’s wish to stay in that place; however, they are hurried to leave by the other car. It made me think about how I can spend an indefinite amount of time in the fitting room, going through the clothes and relaxing on a chair after walking around the store until I have to go. Monsour writes, “I want to stay till everything makes sense,” showing that the narrator perceives the place as chaotic despite that the parking lot is orderly organized in its construction (line 10). This reminds me of how I try on new articles of clothing in search of one that would fit perfectly; in other words, the one that would “make sense.” The strict physicality of these places is juxtaposed against the fast-paced environment that they exist in, which is what makes them similar.

In the last lines, the poem plays on both themes of industrial superiority and time. In particular, “But oily-footed pigeons flap and chase– / A red Camaro, flushing them apart, / Pulls up behind me, waiting for my space” combine these two concepts (Monsour, lines 11-14). The mechanical beast drives away the only source of life while simultaneously hurrying the narrator to leave. It gives the poem a concluding look, which also reflects the state of my attitude towards the dressing rooms.

In conclusion, what the poem by Leslie Monsour essentially does is that it manages to illustrate the narrator’s feelings through the contrasting imagery and vague sense of time. The parking lot reminds me of the dressing rooms: my desire to remain still in this heavily structured space against the fear of leaving it. Therefore, the poem can be analyzed through the personal perspective and its ability to connect with the audience.

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Works Cited

Monsour, Leslie. “Parking Lot.” 2006. Poetic Diversity.

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