african-born Isobel Dixon’s lines communicate not just warmth but, implicitly, information about the personalities of her father and mother and their relationship. Other poems in her new collection, The Leonids (Mariscat Press, £6), offer more insights into the family dynamic.
MY MOTHER’S DRESS
Perhaps the year
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that great Aunt Mary died.
My father’s legacy, a little cash
to spare, so he could buy her
that unusual thing,
a brand new dress.
Not handmade, hand-me-down,
or from the jumble sale. Fresh
from the Ladies’ Garment Department’s rails,
brought home on ‘appro’ first,
for the approval of us all.
a floor-length fall
of vivid tangerine,
pearl buttons at the throat
and cuffs, like pips.
My mother, spicy naartjie,
The trying on, my father’s praise
made pageant of a winter’s afternoon.
And decades later, with this poem
half-formed, him gone,
I come back home
and it’s on a hanger, on the bedroom screen,
on show. As if we’d both opened a door,
left it ajar, found the wardrobe’s store
of sunshine, oldest cloth worth most.
naartjie=Afrikaans for tangerine