Sunday, 17 September 2006

The Dressing Table by Kei Lawford

Annette Lawford

There you sat, one leg folded over the other
Your wooden stick by you
The one you’d had since you were twenty
Since then, I heard the echoes of your vanity
Swirling round that dirty mirror
And there I was, sitting on the bed
I was seven and playing with your jewellery
My dear and old grandmother, I was by you then
The mirrors, the boxes, the ornaments and you,
You became an exhibition and I admired
Your hair that reminded me of looms, your hands
Carved from cherry wood, the deep grey storms you had for eyes
Sunken like glass ships.
Three stained panels faced you, reflected you from all
Sides, embracing your fine lines
The ones that made your skin feel like
Yolk when I kissed your cheeks
You would smile and I’d catch sight of three smiles
And your hair fell like gauze, it was so light
Your fingers playing their way through it,
It seemed as if young children were running through
Cornfields, gold turned dull by the clouds
Just as your fingers made a parting, a silver path
Melted into moonlight.
Then, with one graceful move,
Every lock of hair would lift up past
The nape of your fragile neck, and there! With little effort
Your hands would pin the bun into place
With black slides that slid so gently through the strands
I would watch in silence, as the morning sun would settle
Above the orchard and the pool
I felt the weak beams of light pass through us both
And steal away the colour from the wooden drawers
And the silver rings I’d hold in my hand
And for a second, you seemed so far away
Holding the ivory comb with the missing teeth, your
Eyes gazing dimly at the velvet case, now your mouth
Painted with rouge that barely showed, your lips so small
My memories of you grow old
As if the sun on any day, when shining in my life
Steals your picture away and when you died
That table which you sat at, the throne and the glass panels
Swung open like palace doors
Became my last mental photo of you
As I sat a little older on the stool, remembering you
Knowing that father was selling the house
And I could hear the ivy scratching at the wall
But the dressing table is still your throne,
And in my mind we are the last two who belonged
To that painting in the picture that I hang on the walls
Of my memory,
And I can still make out our figures
Even as the light begins to fade.

Catherine Kei Lawford (aged 14)

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