States of Poetry 2016 - South Australia | 'The Dressmaker’s Daughter' by Kate Llewellyn

I was the dressmaker's daughter
our dialogue was fabric, colour,
embroidery, pins and scissors.
The almost silent sound
of snipped cloth falling
on the table round my feet.

A bodice of pins drew down
over my head like a scaffold.
I spent my childhood in the sea
or standing on a table – 'A sway back!'
she said proudly.
Once I wore a tablecloth as a skirt
to school and before that curtains
as a dress.
I was always proud. The colours
clung like flowers. I was summer,
autumn, spring. Never winter.
'See,' she'd say, 'a pocket.'
Cutting fabric to a map like Australia
Then inserting flagpoles of pins
on the beaches.
'You can never match blue!'
Bodice, baste, peplum, flare,
dart, placket, gusset, yoke.
Air suddenly swept round my legs
Then my armpits grew cool
as the cold blades clipped
and my shoulder appeared.
There are no scars as no flesh
Was ever snicked so nothing bled.
No sister interrupted
the lavish pageant,
the geometry of adornment.

 

Kate Llewellyn

Kate Llewellyn

Kate Llewellyn

Kate Llewellyn is the author of twenty-four books comprising eight of poetry, five of travel, journals, memoirs, letters and essays. She is the co-editor of The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets and is the author of the bestseller The Waterlily: A Blue Mountains Journal. Her most recent books are A Fig at the Gate, a book of nature writing and poems, published by Allen & Unwin, and First Things First, a book of her letters edited by Dr Ruth Bacchus and Dr Barbara Hill, published by Wakefield Press.