Olivia Byard is a British poet brought up in Canada, author of two poetry collections so far with a third collection just being completed. Her most recent poetry collection, Strange Horses, was published in the UK from Flambard Press, in 2011. All further information, and examples of her work can be found at www.oliviabyard.com.
'The Corset' is about women in a family, the generations, and aging; it is also cross-cultural -- growing up in Montreal, the poet took family holidays in Maine, USA. There's a lot of good humour in this piece -- it's upbeat and positive about older women. The poem also illustrates that as the weather heats up we all may need a change of clothing!
That hot summer in Maine
when I was fourteen, Granny
found herself beached
in her whale-boned corset
high above the shimmering shoreline -
our bags rugs drinks and clothes
washed up against her.
but was adamant, until the thermometer
nudged ninety and even she
had a refit to Bermuda shorts
and a top.
if she'd tip over without her stays -
but she trimmed herself up
to full four feet nine inches,
and breeze belling her loose blouse
straight with my little brother
through the shallows for crabbing -
naked toes wriggling beneath.