Queen Victoria ’s Wedding Dress by Angela Readman

Tonight is a hundred pins dropped
on black lino, a skitter of stars.

The rain mists a scarf onto my hair.
I race on paths sluiced by the brewery,
a bolt of moon under foot fleet

as cloth running off the roll.
The seamstress is at work still, a lamp
flares in the window. I knock.

Of all the girls she picked me to freeze
herself into a gown, be the size of a queen.
One silver fingertip clicks, thimbles

the knob. The seamstress lets me in.
I slip on the dress as if lathered in soap,
scared of seeing my colours in the foam.

She is an orbit of steel, constellations
fly out of her hands, jab Orion to my bust.
Don’t breathe. I daren’t touch myself,

afraid of my sudden white fabric, orange
blossoms embroidered over the swell
of my scruffy heart. The lady kneels, lifts

my skirt and crawls in. A starry night
of pins spot the rug. I sway over her,
callus palmed, thighs satin. Something fits.

Angela Readman's poems have been published in journals including The Rialto, Ambit, Magma, and Popshot. They have won The Mslexia Competition, The Charles Causley, and The Essex Poetry Prize. She also writes stories, her collection Don't Try This at Home won a saboteur award, and The Rubery Book Award in 2015.

Angela Readman’s poems have been published in journals including The Rialto, Ambit, Magma, and Popshot. They have won The Mslexia Competition, The Charles Causley, and The Essex Poetry Prize. She also writes stories, her collection Don’t Try This at Home won a saboteur award, and The Rubery Book Award in 2015.

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