Brown Suits

Les Murray

Sorting clothes for movie costume,
chocolate suits of bull-market cut,
slim blade ties ending in fringes,
brimmed felt hats, and the sideburned
pork-pie ones that served them. I lived then.

The right grade of suit coat, unbuttoned,
can still get you a begrudged free meal
in a café. But seat sweat off sunned vinyl,
ghostly through many dry-cleans
and the first deodorants. I lived then

and worked for the man who abolished
bastards. The prime minister who
said on air I’m what you call a bastard.
Illegitimate. And drove a last stake
through that lousiest distinction.