Colin Whyles p.1

Colin Whyles

Summer Dresses



Summer Dresses
Great Grandmother HuntPhotographs of my Mother and her sisters in their 
teenage years show girls in immaculate but simple 
dresses. They all possessed good, clean bicycles as 
well. How a simple-living country family could afford 
such things in the early 1920's puzzled me until a 
cousin told me that my grandfather's mother was an 
invalid who spent all day making dresses.

It was the practice then that when a child was born a 1d insurance was 
taken out to pay for a funeral in the event that the child didn't survive. 
This matured at the age of fifteen and provided enough to buy a bicycle.

However, despite her not being the dressmaker, this is dedicated to my 
Great-Grandmother Hunt, Elizabeth Leake, 1845-1931 as she provided 
the inspiration.

These photographs of country girls, in frames
of summer dresses, always neatly pressed;
On bicycles that glint on rugged lanes,
Are netted; now on silvered paper rest.

As tailored cotton dress is shaped and drawn,
each wayward fallen thread reclaimed by clutch
of dancing children's hands that scoop and paw
to catch each strand, restrain its wanderlust.

One penny over fifteen years buys wake
or bicycle, as chance and life define,
To pedal on a carefree summer break:
Insurance peddled to an infant's whine.

Behind, your hand lies hidden, as the lens
reveals your woven gifts of elegance.

Copyright © 2013 Colin Whyles
Summer Dresses read by Colin Whyles

I am sure that nothing tells this man
his face speaks of the weariness
of a punishing life unrelieved
by the comfort of laughter;
as would a cartoon face map
the contours of its character,
relating its history and also
outlining its future paths.

I am sure that the weight of his jowls
pull no more heavily from the mass
of his experience nor from
the frequency of his frowns;
as would his caricature tell
of the missed opportunities
slipping from his oily grasp
into that dream-world as they fell.

I am sure of the mismatch between
the face and the nature, the twist
of the ink and the straightness of furrow,
the portrait and the canvas beneath;
as would the line of the draftsman's pen
sketch a story on every wrinkle,
each line a lie concealing wit
wrought from life's malevolence.

I am sure that nothing tells this man
his face refutes every word he speaks,
nor would his parody represent
the inner soul, as truth demands;
as I am sure I would not desire
to grow into the face I show
but would rather it grew into me,
unmasking slowly over time.

Copyright © 2013 Colin Whyles
Physiognomy read by Colin Whyles

Sitting in that cocoon
between you and those handlebars
that recklessly indicated our trajectory
as you pummelled at the pedals,
I was whisked hither and thither;
from home to school,
school to home,
sometimes diverting via the egg packers,
where you went to buy cheap, cracked eggs.

One time we arrived home
my face reddened by the wind,
yours reddened by your exertions,
And as you clambered off your bicycle
you dropped the basket of eggs
in trying not to drop me.

I don't remember the exact
Lincolnshire dialect you uttered,
but I do remember my reply:
"Well, you wanted them cracked."

I loved the sound of your laughter.

Copyright © 2013 Colin Whyles
Eggs read by Colin Whyles


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