Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Coming of Age

Scared of your slender, blossoming beauty
Mother dresses you in baggy clothes,
chops off your auburn hair,
bans make-up, jewellery and perfume,
points out fat-legged girls in mini-skirts to say:
“See no-one looks good like that!”

You return from your first term away
bright with friendship, ideas
and a rucksack of fashionable new clothes.
One afternoon while you’re out
she blacksacks your prized new possessions
visits Oxfam* but describes a theft.

Thin-lipped she marches you to BHS**
for modest brown tweed to suit
your new adulthood. Next term end
she puzzles over your absence,
your postcards from Paris and Milan.

previously published in Envoi

*Oxfam - an international development charity which runs second hand shops in the UK to raise money for its work.

** BHS - British Home Stores, not famed for its funky fashionable clothes, not that I'd know these days, given all my clothes are second hand! Mind, none of them have BHS labels!

Not literally true, this poem is however, based on my mother's attitudes to my clothes, when I was growing up. It's a favourite a poetry readings for some reason.


Hannah Stephenson said...

I love this one, and how the poem ends with the mother, the quietness around her.

d. moll, said...


Anonymous said...

Good for you! I can see why this poem is a favorite.

Jim Murdoch said...

I like this one. I can relate to it too although my parents were reasonably tolerant of the fashion choices I made with one exception: skinners. Now I have no idea why they were called that because they were high-waisted, baggy jeans with huge turn-ups and I was desperate for a pair which I got but dad, who did all the alterations in the house after my mother refused to learn how to use the new sewing machine he bought her, would only give me one-inch turn-ups and I was subsequently mortified. Thankfully that fashion trend only lasted about a week. I do, however, own a BHS coat which I’ve been wearing for about ten years even though the cuffs are starting to fray. I’ve bought a couple of replacements since but I keep going back to it.

Dorla Moorehouse said...

This definitely hits close to home . . .

Amin said...

Very beautiful post!