18 January 2011

Late Tuesday Poem: 'Partying with Katherine Mansfield'

Partying with Katherine Mansfield

‘Don’t be a bore,’ says Katie
as she pulls me up by my arm
to the dance floor

She was proud to be the first woman
in the whole of London to wear purple stockings
She shows them off as she shimmies
her skirt above her knees

I teach her the twist and she spirals off
towards D H who has found
an ironing board from somewhere and
they take turns at sliding down, shrieking with laughter

She’s smiling and kissing
everyone in the room, sipping punch
now joining me at the open window
breathing in the cool night air

‘Today is a new day, a new year, a new age
It’s a new world,’ she says
‘We mustn’t live as if it isn’t’

Better late than never, I guess. My first Tuesday Poem of the year is the last poem in My Iron Spine, but one I mean to have lashings of hopefulness and forward-lookingness. Katherine was indeed said to have been the first woman in London to wear purple stockings. When I read her stories at high school (and liked them) the impression we got of her - or I did at least - was of some sweet kind of tragic creature. But actually she was much more exciting than that, and much more full of life.

Many Tuesday poets are getting back into it today. You can find them via the Tuesday Poem blog.


Elizabeth Welsh said...

You have captured her brilliantly, Helen! Such life and energy. The purple stockings are fabulous. Thanks so much for posting!

Helen Rickerby said...

Thanks so much Elizabeth!

Kathleen Jones said...

I love it Helen - yes you've 'got' her. She was such fun.

Helen Lowe said...

I love this, Helen. Thanks for posting it.

Helen Rickerby said...

Thanks Helen and Kathleen! Kathleen, for you to say you think I 'got' her means a lot to me. I really felt you 'got' her in your biography too - something that I didn't feel the other biographies had quite managed - she always seemed caricatured in some way. I felt you managed to capture her more as the person that she came across as from her letters, journals and from accounts of people who actually knew her.