Dances

 

mother, why do you dress me as an old woman?

you rake my hair and put me in dangerous shoes
stick diamond twigs to my breast
and leave me at dances where I will look
ridiculous
the hostess does not look after me
I must talk to boys in paper suits
they wait by the pastry boats
and cannot kiss a girl without dribbling
my underwear aches
like you I am not the coupling type

twenty years later I have creeping regrets
thinking of those insubstantial boys
the alimony payments
the large castle attics
I could have disappeared in
their quiet asylums

how foolish I was to have scowled
and refused their vol au vents

mother you were absolutely right

Julia Darling

People sometimes ask where our press got it’s name from – here’s the answer. Rereading it now, I think it perhaps foreshadows Julia’s later use of houses or buildings as metaphor for the body. Also typical of Julia to reverse the received idea of the madwoman locked in the attic, welcoming ‘their quiet asylums’ where she could be creative and independent in peace and prosperity. Ellen

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Shad’wing – for Julia Darling on the anniversary of her death

Too dark to write
this rainy April morning, so
I’ll knit you a boat, Julia,
on big needles, strong as elbows,

trimmed in a  free-range yellow,
sprigg and span, sweet as a teacup, trig
and toasty, fit for the Nile, for the Tyne,
for the landing grounds of your lighthouses

I ache for still, those stay with me, go,
stay with me shades, fading slant
and gone, across the water:
I see you rowing for the Rendezvous in unseen sun,

nothing you need now, no gnarled prow, no four-ply
anchor –  you’re a sailing bird, a sailor flying,
sure as a tern, for whom the world is a thousand-mile
syllable, every breath says home,

anything’s possible across white noise
water, between sweep of echo
and our distance, your voice
carrying, a trawl-net of stars.

Pippa Little

“Shad’wing the surge that sweeps the lonely strand”
Sonnet XXX, ‘Bids Farewell to Lesbos’, Sappho and Phaon,
Mary Robinson 1757-1800

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