Skirt by Dorothy Burrows




Decades ago, Dorothy Burrows taught Drama and wrote short plays and the occasional short story. She won a few awards.  After years of working in a museum, retirement is enabling her to enjoy creative writing again. Walking in the countryside often gives her ideas for poems, especially haiku. She attends poetry classes tutored by Elaine Baker. 























Tipping out an old brown suitcase,

I find you have left me your skirt.

It was a best skirt too: worn mainly

for village fetes, Sunday School shows,


set-menu dinners on coach holidays

to Ilfracombe, Lyme Regis, Inverness.

Pure polyester; so easy for you to throw

in the twin tub, your rock ’n roll spin-dryer


then hang out with dolly pegs on the line

amongst rhubarb and goosegogs to dry.

Once, sea breezes whipped up and blew it

across our field full of Friesian bullocks;


you battled through grass and cow pats

with a long yard-broom to bring it back

to scrub again with Lux soap flakes

and typical feistiness in the scullery sink


before wringing it, pegging it out afresh

with three extra pegs for good luck.

Your skirt held fast to the line this time

whirling, flapping in the Westerly wind;


bright, loud, agitated, strong; an exotic bird

crash-landing on a patch of marshland

at Lancashire’s edge. Your skirt’s patterns

in green, orange, blue, look vivid even now


against the grey; its synthetic sheen is still

silky smooth forty odd years on. Let’s face it,

this skirt was not worn much. It wasn’t done

for folk like you to shock in-laws, neighbours,


and the village set with a flounce of urban chic;

But did it ever look chic on you? Is that why you

left it in the case? So I would wash it, wear it;

breeze into arty parties, like you never could?



Dorothy Burrows