Her walk is a shuffle of little slip-steps

as she tries to avoid all the trips and mis-steps

that she’s had many times on the roads in the past

from just trying to walk everywhere much too fast.

She’s slowed herself down quite a lot just of late

She feels a bit off, thinks it’s something she ate.

She’ll not use an aid, not a stick or a cane,

and don’t even talk about those bloody frames.

They’re for the old folk, and she isn’t old yet,

just seventy-nine, and don’t you forget.

When she crosses the road, she swallows hard first.

She waits for some quiet, then sets off in a burst

as the quiet means that all the cars she can’t hear

are not somewhere near and so she need not fear.

She steps on the road, many yards from the crossing,

and she just sets her jaw and she smiles and keeps going,

believing that all of the drivers can see her,

though she can’t see anything much of them, either.

Winter or summer she wears the same coat,

the gaberdine mac with the stains down the front,

beneath it a frock if the weather is hot,

and two fluffy fleeces if she feels it is not.

She carries a bag that once was in fashion.

She uses it now just to carry her rations

of cat food and biscuits and milk and some tins

of beans and tomatoes, and tonic and gin.

The girl at the counter says “Hello, Mrs Gracey”,

and Ada, she squints and she says, “Hello, Stacey.”

The girl wears a badge so that you know her moniker

In yellow on blue her badge reads VERONICA.

But she smiles and she bags up the goods for the old girl

who she thinks is nice but is not long for this world.

Veronica plans to discuss with her manager

how best to address with this lovely old dowager

the delicate issue of personal hygiene

as her bouquet of late has become something obscene.

Ada gathers her bag and sets off back home,

where she and her Moggy live all on their own.

She rattles around doing things out of habit

and then settles down to watch something called Gambit.

She looks at the cat and the cat looks at her,

each in their own way beginning to purr.

She says, “You just wait and I’ll open a tin,

and maybe I’ll unstop that bottle of gin,

for the t.v. is awfully awful these days.

I can’t bear to watch it except through a haze.

I can’t bear to see much of anything, really.

All that I see is so terribly dreary.

It’s not like the war, when we’re all scared of dying.

Nowadays, Moggy, it’s living that’s frightening.”

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