Jean Atkin




My grandmother teaches me

Her flat swings through the mirrored door
and we are wafted with mothballs.
Her nylons hiss when she crosses her legs.

Her shoes are mauve, with little heels.
I trawl my fingers in the deeps of the rug,
stir talcum miasmas and breathe

through my mouth.
She directs from the  flounced stool
that goes with the dressing table.

“Darling, let’s get all these shoes out.”
I reach up to push aside soft ranks of clothes,
their hangers conversational above my head.

Silk slips between wool crepe skirts.
A mohair coat-dress strokes my cheek.
I trap a belt.  It’s armoured in crocodile

coiled like a snake.  It unrolls
a glittered buckle, strikes my hand.  “Oh,
I used to be so slim,” she says, “when I was young.”

Already I know when to say nothing.  Instead
I find high-heeled sandals that swing pretty
in my grip, while I measure the stab

of a heel between finger and thumb.
“Say stiletto! “ Her voice is beads skittled on a tray.
“Your Mummy should wear these, shouldn’t she?”



Jean Atkin works as a poet, and lives in Shropshire. Her first collection Not Lost Since Last Time is published by Oversteps Books. She has also published four pamphlets and a children’s novel, The Crow House. She is Poet in Residence for Wenlock Poetry Festival 2015.

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