The old woman

By 18th July 2010December 9th, 2019No Comments

She was old, possibly Jewish
I was young and not
‘Its cold,’ she was rather shrewish
I replied ‘I’m hot.’

This had gone on for some time when
Looking rather strange,
She sat me down and called me Ben
Asked me to arrange,

For me and Steve to visit her
Though she called him Phil,
What time and day would we prefer?
Would we eat a grill?

‘Must go’ she said and eyed the clock
‘Jakob will be back
Tired, hungry. I wont hear his knock
Where’d I leave my mac.’

We both smiled, looked at each other
‘Jewish then’ he said
Clucking round you like your mother
Seeing that your fed.

We duly turned up on the date,
Head cocked round the door
‘I thought it was Jakob, he’s late’
And behind her the polished floor.

‘Please do come in, do have a seat’
Then she brought some tea.
Kitchen aromas, roasting meat
All for Steve and me?

For even then I surely knew
That jakob wasn’t here,
Why I had thought that to be true
I’d no idea.

She brought the meal roast beef l, orange
And all the trimmings
A combination very strange
And no way slimming.

But slim she was, and smartly dressed
Long sleeved cocktail frock,
Dove grey marled silk, made to impress
Shoes of dove grey croc.

I was twenty then, she was old
Probably fifty,
Quite handsome if the truth be told
Petite in court heels.

She cleared the table, went to check
If Jakob was here,
Returning brought the coffee back
Then it all was clear.

Leaning forward stretching to pour
Her sleeve rose a little,
On her arm crudely, red and raw
Poorly drawn, a petal.

Quite mad you see, as a hatter,
she spotted my glance
Laughed and saying ‘what’s the matter’
Did a little dance.

‘It was tattooed a week ago
When sure you would come,
It hurt and he was very slow
Had to have it done.’

‘There used to be a number there
Too embarrassing
Now that I have young friends, you pair
When we go dancing.’

‘I love to waltz,’ she glided round
Glided round the room,
Laughing like a bright young thing. Sounds
of madness and doom

For this took place in sixty two
She was clearly mad,
And we had encouraged her, so
Feeling rather sad.

We left that night we didn’t talk.
What was there to say,
Steve took the tube, I had to walk.
To review the day.

A crime committed years ago
Echoes on and on,
In a small flat in Pimlico
Her memory shone.

Beyond the things unspeakable
To the life she had.
And although twas predictable
The thought made her glad.

Of a young husband and children,
A home of their own
Flowers, hammocks, in the garden
Greeting guests, Shallom.

But this was not, could never be
As the tanks rolled on
The life she’d led, Gentility.
Taste, wit, now all gone.

Instead deserted by her friends
Grief and hell to come,
She was unable to defend
Her new infant son.

The child was thrown onto a train
Heedless of its age
She never saw either again
Jakob or the babe.

I’ll not go to see her again
It hurt far to much,
For she is now beyond the pain
Me it newly touched.

John Cox

Author John Cox

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