Poetry

Cole Dresses his Mother

Like Elizabeth I in the film with Helen Mirren
undergoing a gynaecological examination. The

sleeve of her dress comes off, a petticoat is yanked up
a bodice divided. So does dresser Cole, aged

two, assemble and bring to his mother who
has dressed him for 735 days, buttoning

his sleep suits, the necks of his T-shirts
with unknowable slogans, tying the tapes of

his track pants (size 3, leg length 30cms)
her bra, her jersey, her knickers, her jeans

not in the royal order. He hands the jersey
first and indicates she should lower her head

then the knickers, tiny and lace-edged,
the bra, wire-stiffened. He drags

a teddy from a drawer, an angora
bolero, sequin-edged. And she, laughing

like an hysterical queen—she can conceive
the august Elizabethan doctors say

she is found fertile still and can produce an heir—
bra over her shoulder—Cole has brought two—

jeans hastily pulled over knickers, undoing
his precedence—hugs him to her, her delight

who returns delight to her every day
in the reciprocity of mutual dressing.

Elizabeth Smither

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