Charlotte Brontë’s Corset
I’m sorry Charlotte for this disservice.
Of course, your corset is discoloured,
these padded cups no longer coral pink.
Strips of whale plunge the depths
of your bodice, the slightly rusty metal strip
grips from breastbone to wasp-waist.
I feel like a tabloid reporter, sniffing around
the armholes of your life.
I once wore a corset
in my late teens, black PVC over a black skirt,
fishnets and suede stilettos. I didn’t know
a lot of things then, hardly knew who I was,
had barely heard of you. So what gives
me the right to go searching through
your smalls, to lay out your stays
in the library?
I don’t have so many scruples,
can’t be tight-laced. I need to breathe
the length of my lungs. And I do know
I’ve made your tiny body so much larger
than in life. Forgive me, my waist
is so very different to yours.
(From a pamphlet of Katrina Naomi’s Bronte-related poems, Charlotte Bronte’s Corset, written while writer-in-residence at the Bronte Parsonage Museum, and published by the Bronte Society).
Katrina Naomi is working towards a PhD in creative writing at Goldsmiths, she’s originally from Margate and lives in south London.