Pat Jones

Party Frock

by Christopher Whitby

“Give us a twirl,” I said and so she did
(thus marking out some territory — men
don’t do twirls). Weaving straps and flounce she hid
herself behind the conjured image, then
with new-spun adult confidence enquired:
“You think?” “You’ll slay them all,” I said, not sure
if that was quite the answer she required
but sensing needs not prominent before.

Oh take it off! Put on your jeans again.
Let me be Mr Grumpkin still. In such
small acts I feel you slipping through the cup
my hands once made for you and hate it when
you bring me face to face with just how much
I want-admire-resent your growing up.

Christopher Whitby studied English at Cambridge, and after many years as a teacher he now works as a graphic designer. In 2007 he devised and ran an international sonnet competition. The shortlist anthology of that competition, Hand Luggage Only, was published in May 2008 and is available from