Sam Browne – by Angela France

Brasso-silky fingertips, a metal tang in the throat;
tiny circles on the buckle and tongue-tip between my teeth

to guard against marks on the leather. He smiles
at my effort, shows me how he buffs to perfection

and I watch him thread the strap under an epaulette,
fasten the buckles so it sits high on his waist,

his jacket smooth beneath it and close on his wide chest.
I breathe my dad as he straightens his cap over his eyes.

He takes as much care with a security guard’s uniform;
irons a shirt, makes knife-edge creases on trouser legs

with wet cloth under a sizzling iron, polishes each button
to mirror the sun. He reaches for the clothes brush

from a hook by the door, kept for rebel dog hairs,
turns and laughs loud to see his Sam Browne

a perfect fit on my teenage hips. I scowl, flounce
through the door, the belt snug and heavy on my pelvis.

I don’t remember when I saw it last,
tarnished and cracked for lack of army discipline;

Tan leather and the smell of metal polish bring it to mind
with broad shoulders, strong hands, a sad falling in.

First published in Hide (Nine Arches Press, 2013)



Angela France has had poems published in many of the leading journals and has been anthologised a number of times. Her publications include ‘Occupation’ (Ragged Raven Press, 2009), ‘Lessons in Mallemaroking’ (Nine Arches Press, 2011) and ‘Hide’  (Nine Arches Press, 2013).  Angela teaches creative writing at the University of Gloucestershire and in various community settings as well as working for a local charity. She runs a reading series in Cheltenham, ‘Buzzwords’.