Tilla Brading


Unravelling the skein


Some kind of accretion has occurred, gathering the tatters of old bodices, peeping through the crewel eye of tapestry and the lace-worked veil, snapping hoops of crinolines, bones of gussets, fashion statements

text from Unravelling the Skein

text from Unravelling the Skein

Disturbing the peace
Lonely dissenter discovering things of value hidden from view

 A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed
Outside the paradigm

From coptic embroidery
to my bustle encrusted with jewels
written into the rondels of Exeter Cathedral

tent stitch cross stitch rice stitch half-cross crosslet straight stitch
eyelet stitch gobelin basket weave
long-armed cross-stitch straight gobelin algerial eye stitch
continental stitch hungarian satin stitchmontenegrin cross stitchdiagonal  parisian stitch

the soft
persuasion of toadstools
bursts solid concrete
d t
i r
s a
a d
p i
p t
o i
i o
n n
t a
e l

 w p
i o
t e
h t


illegible to other eyes
a muted story
distinctly minor

so much left

part of the heard melodies
of Great Men

shadow     of a brilliant father
putting in order
his literary house;
keeping her husband's house
(in order)

silent heroine whose muffled story

marginalised by sex
(exemplifies her meaning
in the little tale
included in parenthesis)

unfinished Masterpiece

from the formalist
hierarchy of Art 

the interesting fragment ends.

dots intervene
in inability to make (to do)
what might have been


Craft the soft persuasion of wool
As stone in a man's world

In what does man's pre-eminence over the brute creation consist?
(subjugate the [true] impulses of language)
Employ reason to justify prejudices.

For what purpose were the passions implanted?
"He heard the slight creak of her corset as she breathed"
A woman must have time in a room of her own if she is to write.

Tommy was a control freak; he kept Maria captive in her mansion. She wasn't allowed to be free. Sitting in his castle, he'd say,
            "If you deal with Maria, I'm not dealing with you anymore".
The things he'd done to rubbish her career. 

Concrete poetry poppies
(peeping again) where Land Girls weep
engrave memorials
beyond wasted Flander's fields 

No such thing as a silenced artist?

Two women have been 
Dartmouth Naval Base 
arrested outside
charged with 

         items for cutting/damaging t h e f

                                                                     e  n  ce

plank palings crystal ball
. Chaining themselves to railings
the hearse under the horse
(cut fences, break boundaries)
With the presumption of youth

"Sometimes she even longed for the company of her absent husband even though his selfish, uncaring attitude killed all the love and admiration she once had for him".

The girls swing their legs and sing
to the tramp of the 22 men
skipping out of step,
swirling and poking out their tongues

Who's this?
Girl in a slanting khaki beret;
the male exemplar,
arrested for loutish behaviour.

If that's what you want,
In a pin-stripe suit
Grinning under the barrister's wig

What I especially disliked about Mrs Thatcher was her male attributes.

silk, chiffon and some rounded flesh
robins  hop among shouting starlings
she has refused to be tamed

I'm a Jean Paul Gaultier art object .
With a tea cosy on my head

Miss Tress peoples literature

botox reconstruction
a perpetual simper
(I'll bet the surgeon's a man)

The Ladies Football team
is kicking against the knitting
unpicking grandma's tapestry
neat religious stitching
sugary verse of the
cake decoration class

unravelling the skein
untying the knot 
(she cut off her waist-length plaits
when she left home)

monk's hooded,
translating histories and hype

losing the thread
tangled thesis
Where are we?

all and none of this entanglement
looking across the pond
at the glittering boat
bobbing bobbins
always a little ahead
only to discover 
Titanic presumption

swing low sweet in the
lyric hammock
plaited in knotted rope



( Sources are various and include: Vaclav Havel, English fairy tales, Mary Wollstoncraft, Jane Eyre, Virginia Woolf, The Independent, BBC Radio 4 etc..  The section entitled 'Sara' was first published in The Coleridge Bulletin, Spring 2002) 

Bio: Tilla Brading, poet, performer, textual artist and assistant editor of Poetry Quarterly Review, teaches creative writing and has worked most of her life with students with Learning Difficulties. She was brought up in Ystradfellte, Wales but is now assistant custodian of Coleridge Cottage, where the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived, in Nether Stowey, Somerset. Her poetry has appeared widely in a variety of magazines including: Shearsman, Oasis, Fire, Staple, Ramraid Extroadinaire, Terrible Work, and Memes. Her poetry publications include: Possibility of Inferno (Odyssey Poets 1997), AUTUMnal Jour (Maquette Press 1998) and Notes in a Manor: of Speaking (Leafe Press 2002).

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