October 21st, 2010


A Mistress

She lived so long they came to her again.
Pretty young men around her bedroom door
passing her wine as boys did long before
but now she only drank it to numb pain

in her left thigh, right knee. They said nice things
said she was lovely still. She knew they lied
and did not mind. Once they had left, she sighed,
scrubbed off her paint and put away her rings.

She could not give them what they wanted – he'd
left her so many years ago. They'd said
harsh words; next thing she heard was, he was dead.
His work had never been stuff she would read

for pleasure. So she gives them smiles, nods, winks,
the blank mysterious silence of the Sphinx


We waited there, on hard chairs. The harsh light
kept us from sleeping. And there was the smell
of bleach, cold tea and vomit. We could tell
the time from all the shouting. Late at night

it filled when the pubs empty but by two
went quiet .Someone with a broken arm
waiting for plaster. But at least it's warm
I reassured myself and said to you.

She's fine, a nurse said, though her throat is sore
from where they pumped her stomach. She will rest
for half an hour, then take her home. It's best
if you come through now. We walked through the door.

She was alive but pale. And looked so small.
We don't know what to say to her at all.