This week, writer, performance poet and CWC Chair, Brenda Hutchings, shares one of her poems with us, and tells us a bit about her writing and performing life at the moment.
Mother’s Elastic Stockings
Mother perches on quilted eiderdown,
with an Elastoplast stocking rolled
inside out, pulled up her arm, wishing
her legs were as smooth, as easy
to negotiate over the damp, hot,
tenderness. She remembers silk stockings,
her American pilot killed in action,
as if silk thread can pull a memory
from her outstretched arm, entwine
locked hands, draw up the corners
of her smile into lasting kisses like
gum he chewed, spearmint on candy.
With effort, she hooks a stocking
over crooked toes, calcified nails,
a swollen foot. Gingerly rolling
over thromboses and varicose veins,
to the rhythm of tuba, saxophone,
the Glenn Miller Orchestra
until she reaches top note. Almost tight,
almost secure. One, Flying Fortress
held high by a garter; with a twist
and a sixpence, or the dime she kept
to button her heart.
“I wrote the poem in 2008, I think it was, at the Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay at the Torbay Poetry Festival. The late poet, Elaine Feinstein, was reading some of her nostalgia poems, and they made me think about my mum, who always hated wearing surgical (she called them elastic) stockings. It was one of those rare poems which appeared to write itself. I only changed one word in the edit, although I’ve played around with the structure many times. In my book, Heads, Hearts & Tails, I’ve written it in stanzas. You will find it in the Heart section of the book.
I’m currently writing poems which are a different style completely, but great fun. One of them won second prize in last year’s Swanwick/Writing Magazine Poetry Competition. It was called Don’ t Weigh Me Now, I’m Having Such A Good Time, a nod to my dieting days. My latest poem is called How to Train your Eyebrows; and that’s going to be the title of my next book of poetry, which I am currently working on.
On another note – theatre is back! And my exciting news is I will be playing the part of Jan, in the October play, Ladies Day a comedy, by Amanda Whittington, directed by Mary Singleton, at Toads Little Theatre, Torquay. It runs from Monday 4th to Saturday 9th October at 7.30pm; there is also a matinee on Saturday 9th at 2.30pm. Box office: 01803 299 330; www.toadstheatre.co.uk. I’ll also be acting in another comedy in April, at Toads, called Laying the Ghost by Simon Williams. That one runs from Monday 4th to Saturday 9th April 2022. You can find out lots more about this fabulous theatre on the website: www.toadstheatre.co.uk or on Facebook.”