Our daughter is fifteen      she is beautiful      she walks home through the dangerous streets at 3 am ordering the flasher to put that thing away.

She used to line up her dolls for lectures      dawdling home from school under the street trees she talked to a cast of imaginary characters.

When she was five she was the mascot at the school sports marching proudly in blue shorts & a halter top      it was a cold day & she had an asthma attack.

At twelve she was Mrs Pankhurst in 0 What a Lovely War under a big black picture hat like a mushroom she delivered inflammatory feminist speeches      she made a giant green cardboard crocodile      it lived in her attic laying its dreamy snout on the window sill it watched the traffic      its long tail switching in the dust.

She came home when she left her lovers      standing at the upstairs window      aloof with tears      her red bikini underpants stuffed in her raincoat pocket.

Our daughter got married in second-hand white organza with dozens of soiled covered buttons      (she cleaned each one with a toothbrush)      it rained for days & the wedding dress hung sodden in the bathroom like a hanged bride      it took my breath away      with false silver fingernails & contact lenses      frangipani in her lacquered hair-do      she floated down through the park to the thin dark handsome bridegroom in his stovepipe trousers.

Our daughter is thirty-three      she is visiting the Hong Kong Film Festival      she has left her husband      lost eight kilos & wears a mini-skirt      when she gives a lecture at Macau University the Vice-Chancellor snickers      pretty lady you got doctorate?

--- From Halfway up the Mountain
Dorothy Hewett
Fremantle Arts Centre Press
(Distributed by Penguin)

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