The Dress Argument

There is a milestone in a girl’s growing-up when her mother asks ‘Surely you’re not going out in that…‘ It’s not a question, but a realisation that the paths of mother and daughter no longer run along the same track. The wardrobe doors of perception of each party overlook different prospects. Here is a poem about a dress – the eponyomous Festival Dress. I follow it with a previously posted poem about a red dress, The Undoing. Both poems are recorded on Sound Cloud – linked from the side-bar of the blog.

Every girl needs a ‘festival dress’, at any age, even if it stays in the wardrobe.


Festival Dress


The dreamy woman in that trashy kaftan you despise, is your gran.

In ’65, she wore a mini-skirt, her legs, lithe, and long.

And in ’68, she wore a long dress, splashed with daisies, and mud.

In a field, night starry with stars, and sparkling with cider

a man did more than just kiss her…

Your granddad.


Your mum missed out on the maxi.

She danced at the school disco in a silver top.

Oh, oh, electro-



Your chagrin when your mum went retro

and bought the same festival dress on ebay

you coveted for Glasto…

let her hair hang long.

Oh, Mum… Oh,



Oh, girl,

you don’t know what your mum missed out on.

Ask your gran.

In her trashy kaftan…

Oh, oh, Gran!




The Undoing


The girl wears a red dress

that has the texture of coiled wire.

It has a colour between

crushed strawberry

and papaya.


Her eyes say, beware…

She shows me the palm of her hand.

I see the lines of her fate,

her headline, heart

and a scar that runs through them all like a knife cut.

That’s love for you boy…

Her laugh is like a bark.


She spins for me to admire.

Her teeth are sharp.

I see how she is caged in that dress,

how the red thread loops and knots.

It’s just one strand, I know.

One tug and it will spring apart.








3 thoughts on “The Dress Argument

  1. I remember how excited I was when I got my first dress. It was quite long, turquoise crimpoline, with a rucked bodice and ties at the back. I thought I was the bees knees! I went to the school Christmas dance and remember Jona Lewie’s ‘Stop the Cavalry’ was playing. Cool!

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