It's about Sarah Ann Henley, who jumped from the Clifton Suspension Bridge on 8th May 1885, only for her dress and petticoats to fill with air, parachuting her onto the muddy river bank below. She died 63 years later, a reluctant celebrity.
This is my poem having a little lap of honour before it sinks back into the mud of obscurity.
sister of Icarus,
under the nails of pointing fingers,
to the skin of idle tongues.
You can scrub your treacherous dress,
those voluminous petties.
The prurient breeze still lifts the hem
and sniffs beneath.
You tumbled before you stepped
from Clifton’s glittering parapet, the city
spread between your legs
like a dowry to the wind,
which wrapped itself around your body
and possessed you,
as you somersaulted
like a clanging knell,
the lecherous lover’s bed
that dipped to catch you
as you fell.
Deborah Harvey © 2009 , 2011
NB. My first poetry collection, Communion, is being published by Indigo Dreams next month. This poem isn't in it.