Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2010

Her wardrobe refuses to say Goodbye

by Vivien Hampshire

I came looking for something she would choose,
in a shade to enhance her sallow skin, soft,
to pass easily over rigid arms, to cover wrinkled knees,
preserve her dignity.
An afternoon dress for her final show, a matinee
with an audience of one. And shoes.
High-heeled. Pointed. Red.
Shoes that refuse to acknowledge
she is dead.
But here, in death-dark recesses, in the shadows
of ageing wood, where old diaries
slip their secrets from fluttered pages,
fragile strips of brittle tape,
like yellowed fingers sacrificed to nicotine,
slowly lose their grip on a shrouded past
that lingers, still,
in camphored corners.
She is dead.
And on satin hangers, leaking cotton wool,
her clothes in rows, cloned in Crimplene, cling,
diamante-pinned, sharing her perfumed traces,
speaking in whispers.
As her muffled echo drifts
through loose leaves and lavender bags,
memory infiltrates
She is dead.
And the brooch I always thought was silver
lies among the dusty buttons,
rusting at the clip.
And all her shoes are black.

Added: 23.04.2010

Judges' comments on this poem


This is rich in images and carries emotion that I can identify with. It progresses, and gives cause for thought. Tops.


I love this poem a little more with each reading. Deceptively clever. Hearftfelt truth. A good choice of title


Very evocative of old ladies - reminded me of my grandma and very tender and sensitive about the situation.