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412th Weekly Poetry Contest winner: Summer Parade, Eden Square, Urmston

by Cathy Bryant

First the perfect man, topless astride his bike,
his skin a matte black, his body reminding us
that Nature and the gods aren't racist.

And there's the perfect woman, ponytailed,
in miniscule denim shorts. She's slathered
with the heavy grease of lustful stares
from the greedy and slack-jawed, yet
she walks in clean light, her head high.

Another topless man is sunburned
and walks with a clumsy lollop
and more than a dollop of self-consciousness.
It's OK...stop worrying...the sun is out for you too.

There she is! The perennial Old Lady who,
on the hottest day of the year, wears
a heavy coat, furry hat, thick boots and tights.

- although - one of today's miracles -
most seniors are out and shining too, parading
the first of the thousand beautiful frocks:

like the woman in a polka-dotted navy tea dress,
she with her back triumphantly straight, her
silver-white hair gleaming platinum in the sun.

or the woman enormous, like me, with short
red hair and a white-aqua shift dress. She smiles
and waves to someone she knows.

There, look! Another redhead, serene in green,
gliding in her wheelchair, and oh! A cream and
bamboo print, worn by a woman in her thirties
with glasses, and a body straight from '40s

I'm in a maxi dress of blue and white stripes.
There's a girl in orange and yellow, and a slender
somebody in a duck-egg sundress and matching
hair tie. They look fabulous.

A flurry of scarlet ruffles, undulating like a sea being,
disappears before I see who wears it. The toddler
in pink is dancing, dancing, dancing for joy.

Fashion and its strictures have evaporated,
and every person in a strappy or floaty dress,
and clacking sandals, is (obviously)
perfectly beautiful.
And so are the unfrocked others!

This is to thank them, and you
and your dresses, and for having the courage
to surrender to colour, free limbs and cheer!
Such brightness, such happiness!

See all the entrants to 412th Weekly Poetry Contest