I remember that time I held my mother’s hand
led her across the parkland temporarily blinded,
her infected conjunctiva spindly red;
burst open veins squirrelled about her white
opal hemisphere or sclera, her iris brown green
with a lint of gold, or hazel bewitchment.
Scared of leading her all the way to the doctor
only six years old, or thereabouts, past the play equipment
where the cross-dressed bearded man sat
drinking methylated spirits, rocking her pram
with a white poodle in it, across the busy road,
past the veterinary clinic. My mother’s
cyclopean tortoiseshells impressed me,
those oversized glasses she wore protected her
from the suns glare and gave me hope –
to go beyond the narrow confines of suburbia,
the peerless dull brick veneer houses, not as
Howard Arkley depicted, no neon splashes of colour,
or floral embellishments, only uniformity,
boxed gardens, concrete drives, fenceless plots.
My mother loved to dress up, to present herself
to the world everyday as if she were dressing for paradise.
Her expensive French silk scarves, gangster-like
gold ropes around her neck, diamond rings, fur coats.
Her mother dressed up too, sewed her own clothes,
put elegant outfits together. Perhaps,
in the spirit of Frida Kahlo who awoke everyday
to dress with such festivity, mythopoeic flair, so as
to face the divine with her chin up despite persistent pain.
My mother’s pain is like a temporary blindness,
it comes over her, she retreats into herself, goes
searching within herself for her-self-lost. This morning
I woke up with my lids stuck together, lashes-laced,
encrusted with gound from infection. From time to time
I go blind. But, I have one weapon against the dark,
a cutlass with which to sharpen myself, I wake every day
bare-skinned as a Phoebe and I dress for paradise.
Natalie Rose Dyer
Dressing for Paradise
1 February 2018