Day Breaks in Dressing Gowns

In your double bed, raised on a little platform

your two figures in dressing gowns, backs against

the headboard, are sipping cups of tea.


Two dear dressing gowns, one blue, one white

their sashes tied, though out of sight.

Perhaps your toes are stretching beneath the covers


toes you would recognise if they were stolen away

one toe overlapping on the left foot (high heels)

the other (male) pristine and soft.


No need for dressing gowns in the summer air

one made of towelling, one of poplin

but how they dress you, how I applaud


standing in the doorway, robed in

a spare I found behind my door.

I know you so well, I think,


and the dressing gowns seem to concur.

I hope never to hold them in my arms

empty forms and dangling arms over which I weep.


Elizabeth Smither


When I was thinking how to honour you, Paula, I kept returning to this image of dressing gowns. You’ve wrapped New Zealand poetry and poets in the warmest of acknowledgements; you’ve made us all feel good.


One comment on “Day Breaks in Dressing Gowns

  1. This is such a wonderful gift, and the kindest of acknowledgements. I love the way a small physical detail in an Elizabeth Smither poem — a starting point, a turnstone — imbues the poem with life and warmth and feeling. To shift between the warmth of the dressing gowns and that uncanny prospect of the empty one draped over arm is breathtaking. Moving. Glorious. Thank you.


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