For such a sombre woman it strikes an
unexpected note of frivolity, with those
flamboyant stripes of pink, white, yellow
and the oddly unexpected poker-work
handle, all strangely at odds with her,
the severe aunt we thought we knew,
in a no-nonsense maroon beret, jammed
onto an uncompromising bob of grey hair,
her dingy tweeds, baggy cardigans, beige
lisle stockings and ancient brogues, but
now as we clear out her house, here she
is in a creased photograph; slim, smiling,
languorously coiled hair beneath an outsize
ostrich-feathered hat set at a roguish angle,
wearing the long lace and fringed-silk dress
which was then thought suitable for a day
at the Edwardian races, her parasol held
flirtatiously, leaning on the arm of some
tall young man who, it is almost certain,
will not be coming back from the Somme.


Angela Kirby, born in rural Lancashire in 1932, now lives in London and is the author of five books on cooking and gardening. Her poems are widely published, anthologised and broadcast. In 1996 and 2001 she was the B.B.C.’s Wildlife Poet of the Year. Much of her work is translated into Romanian. Shoestring Press published her four collections, Mr. Irresistible, 2005, Dirty Work, 2008, A Scent of Winter, 2013, The Days After Always, New and Selectec Poems, 2015.

Dearest reader! Our newsletter!

Sign up to our newsletter for the latest content, freebies, news and competition updates, right to your inbox. From the oldest literary periodical in the UK.

You can unsubscribe any time by clicking the link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or directly on Find our privacy policies and terms of use at the bottom of our website.