Helen Mort

Helen Mort lives in Sheffield. Her first collection, Division Street, (Chatto & Windus, 2013) was shortlisted for the Costa Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize and won the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize for best first collection. Her second collection, No Map Could Show Them was released from Chatto in summer 2016.



A found poem drawn from ‘Wikipedia: 1920s in Western Fashion’ and an internet forum discussing the mini skirt.

For the first time in centuries
women’s legs were seen
with hemlines rising to the knee.

They are too short
it makes men want to go up their skirts
I am 60 years old do you agree?

Knife-pleated skirts
low-waisted dresses, letting
women quite literally kick up their heels.

I too am past it
and still want to go up women’s skirts
I know how that feels

Proper attire for women
was enforced for morning, afternoon activities,
adorned with sashes, artificial flowers at the waist.

I know we enjoy it
however it ruins our summer
and I am tired, you can’t look at their face

A more masculine look
including flattened breasts and hips
short hairstyles like the Marcel Wave, the Eton Crop.

I don’t go out of my way to stare
down her top, it’s just we get out of focus
and then we fail our exam

Marcel Grateau. Francois Marcel.
Given the dates, it’s quite
possible they were all the same man.


Rachel in Attercliffe

I’m in suspenders, working Boxing Day.
Your dad, your boyfriend nips out for a beer
then indicates down Derek Dooley Way.
The sign outside says entrance at rear.
There’s tinsel round the bannister, a star
above each bedroom door. I’m crimson to my hips.
I let them lift the layers and unhook my bra.
They’re talkative, telling me what the kids
got yesterday. I smile. I don’t mention my son.
Sometimes, I say I work in mental health.
The ones who’re silent when they come
intrigue me most. You have to laugh at yourself.
I like to think there’s hospital, a recently-dead wife.
I like to think I’m saving someone’s life.

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