A Rewrite of a poem lurking in my dusty recesses. This was loosely inspired by a gorgeous neighbour who loves her pets – her family – I would not dream of treating her as this pome might indicate 🙂
Sadie was eighty when she stopped counting.
Eighty suited her nicely
so she got there and stayed.
I was her acting amanuensis – unpaid.
She got flustered over much but not overmuch.
When she had forms to fill or worries over bills
begging letters from charities,
unentered lotteries ‘won’,
piling the floor at her front door
she’d hang out a sign
and I’d pop in for a cuppa and
bring my shredder
Sadie made cinnamon tea – with a little honey.
And offer me crumpets.
“I know you like a nice bit of crumpet,” she’d go.
And I’d call “Matron!”
And we’d chuckle together.
She had two ways of smiling;
Teeth out or teeth in.
‘Out’ was the general rule
She would say sorry for gurning, going,
“Bleeding teeth. I put them down somewhere
and I’ve lost them agin’.”
Then off to the larder muttering,
“Crumpets? Teeth? Where the bleedin’ ‘ell are you?
I swear I bought crumpets yesterday.”
I said nothing about the dentures
In a glass on the drainer
Nor the crumpet, on my plate.
Nor mention her encroaching dementia of late.
Instead, I said,
“I could murder a muffin. You got a lovely muffin, Sweetie?”
“Oooh you saucy bugger! You’ll be the death of me.”
And Sadie swiped the back of my head lightly
Like my mother did – but spitefully.
Sadie was a regular shoplifter
in a cardie, pyjamas
And the Pirelli pink slippers,
I bought for her last Christmas.
She said, without bitterness or vanity,
that she had never dallied with a man,
“God wanted me all for Himself so he made me ugly
to keep them buggers away.”
Occasionally… she would stare,
a faraway look into nowhere.
“Who’ll look after my babies when I’m gone?”
Sadie’s ‘babies’, their ashes anyway, were displayed,
on shelves in a repro art deco vitrine.
Mango, Smudge and Delphine,
Who popped her head through the door
while sniffing for grounded fledglings
Gobbled Mango’s pilchards – John West, the best.
And Smudge’s favourite chicken breasts
And stuck around.
Bar the ‘casket three’
I was Sadie’s family.
She said in passing I’d inherit the lot,
“When I go, you get everything I’ve got.”
I said, “ what about a picnic at the gorge?
It’s a lovely place…a lovely day.
You could bring your girls and say your goodbyes
Spread their ashes on the river
You’ll feel better then
You’re such a worrier.”
“Lovely place…lovely day,
I’ll take the girls – say goodbye.”
I wrapped the caskets
Put them in a wicker basket
And stowed a stool in the boot
“To keep your bum dry, Sweetie,
don’t want you getting piles now, do we?”
Sadie went, “Cheeky monkey” and clipped my ear lightly
Like my mum used to – but she did it spitefully.
We sat at a spread plaid blanket
gorging shrimp paste and cottage cheese sandwiches.
Sipping tea – hers fortified with more than a tot of whisky.
“C’mon, Sadie, time to say goodbye.”
Sadie tottered across to the dry stone wall
I carried the basket with the caskets
fetched the stool and balanced her,
I said ‘a few words’ as she tipped the ashes,
And hoisted her high to watch her babies
Twinkling to the river below.
As Sadie wiped her tearful eyes,
Bees swarmed around or maybe flies.
Amid the hurly-burly
A heavy thump
Or maybe more
Behind her ear
Sent Sadie’s dentures,
Then her, clattering
Out of reach.
Sadie was nowhere to be seen
Except for a smudge
That might have been her
floating up, or possibly down,