How to Dress

by Helen Mort


How to Dress

“A lady’s dress is inconvenient for mountaineering.” – Mrs Henry Warwick Cole, 1859

 

Your fashionable shoes

might be the death of you.

 

Your hemline catches stones

and sends them plummeting.

 

Below the col, set down your parasol,

put on the mountain’s suit –

 

your forearms gloved with permafrost,

your fingers lichen-light,

 

your mouth becoming fissured

and your ankles malachite.

 

Slip on a jacket made of shale,

cold stockings from a forded stream.

 

Take off the clothes they want

to keep you in. The shadow of the hill

 

undresses you. The sky

will be your broad-brimmed hat.