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.