After exchanging and opening our presents
we drank tea while Mum withdrew to her bedroom.
Half an hour later she emerged - a film star entrance
bejewelled in her Frank Usher blouse.
She wore it every Christmas Day as far as I remember.
Five large flowers – two at the neck three at the front hem
hand-sewn in silver and pink glass beads - frozen rivers
over fine black silk - a dark landscape
draping her moon-pale décolleté. Not my style
but how it cast her demeanour from a lonely tea by the fire
to dinner at the Ritz. We applauded, sighed with admiration
which she received like an Oscar before gliding
into the kitchen - sherry in hand - line-perfect
as she served roast potatoes and gracefully handed round
a jug of gravy over the glass swan filled with dates -
her mother’s centrepiece.
The blouse now hangs - winterly
on the just in case side of my wardrobe,
waiting in the wings. I couldn’t stuff it in a bin bag,
the warmth of her perfume, all of us together.