That Velvet Skirt

She could take our ideas and translate them –
make a pattern, find the right material –
even cut up her wedding dress, satiny, pearl-buttoned,
to deck us for our first communions.

That velvet skirt was the best though.
A haze, mist over the hills, skimming the toes
of my black boots, hinting at possibilities.
Looking forward but not quite sure where to go,

it took me East of Eden jig-a-jigging,
snogging at Redcar Jazz Club, swigging lager,
making an entrance at college parties,
took me sobbing on Leeds station.

In Roman times it took heaps of murex snails boiled up
to get just the right shade to edge a tunic.
But she found it – purple like the clove-scented stocks
she brings me ten years later when my daughter’s born.

The colour and the scent combine, become euphoria.
The old Singer wheel turning, her feet paddling
the treadle, reaming the bruised fabric through the needle,
stitches tight-packed into seams of love.

Ann Cuthbert


Ann Cuthbert lives in the north of England. She loves writing and performing poems, usually with the Tees Women Poets collective. Her work has been widely published in magazines and anthologies online and in print, including a poetry chapbook: Watching a Heron with Davey (Black Light Engine Room Press 2017).

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