My Mother’s Coat

I don’t remember her wearing it,
there’s not even a photograph.
I don’t know how she afforded it
on her teacher’s salary and my father
a booking office clerk for the railways
who brought his wages home
in a brown envelope on a Friday night.
It was a film star’s item of clothing,
with its mink collar —

at least that’s how I remember it,
hanging in the wardrobe,
smelling of mothballs, heavy as a quilt
when I’d secretly take it from its hanger
and slip my adolescent self into it,
feeling the silk lining against arms and legs,
folding it around my body, caressing
the tight unyielding curls,
black and shiny, almost alien, something
unnatural seeping through the glamour,
a darkness felt in the heart; a repellent attraction.
I wondered what sort of animal had a coat like that.

In the days after the funeral, my sister-in-law
threw it out with all the other stuff
or I’d have kept it.
It takes the pelts of thirty lambs
to make one Persian Lamb coat.
They must be under three days old,
ideally foetal,
so as to have that deep blackness,
those close curls that are the most desirable.

Moyra Donaldson


Moyra Donaldson is a poet and creative writing facilitator living in Northern Ireland. She has published six collections of poetry, most recently Selected Poems (Liberties Press 2012) and The Goose Tree (Liberties Press 2014).

© 2017