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  • Writer's pictureBurnt Breakfast

‘Bias Binding’ by Karen Mooney

I helped her pin on the pattern,

marking it out with chalk before

making the cuts, binding the edges

then stitching it all together

on a pedal-driven sewing machine.

Mum made some of her own clothes;

lined skirts in robust heritage fabrics,

out of place in the shiny polyester city

she had not fully embraced.

Nothing was wasted in those days

so remnants became pinafores for me.

I boasted a teal blue one with a polo neck

matching the check, an embarrassed red,

like me, when it drew classmates' attention.

My pride in matching my mother unravelled

as I pleaded for modern garments in man-made

fibres that uniformed the masses, soaking up

the perspiration of their individuality;

the price of fitting in.

I grew up in the city but leaned into the hills

and mountains of my parents' upbringing.

Their traditions and culture, the warp and weft

of my material would fray and bobble

with the friction of a city that didn't quite fit.

Rural customs jarred with our surroundings

as I, spread-eagled with a foot in each camp,

appreciated only much later in life

that you should wear the clothes,

they shouldn't wear you

and that our own raw edges, irrespective

of the cloth from which we're cut,

hold stronger when bound together.


A career in human resource management provided preparation for Karen’s current activities; cats and words. Sometimes they hide, reappearing unexpectedly; sometimes they scratch, sometimes they purr. Her words have appeared in online publications and Penned In, co-written with Gaynor Kane published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press. Her own pamphlet Missing Pieces will be published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press on 30 March.

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