On being unembarrassed


She came bustling into view as I looked

Out on to the grey morning. A lady

Of advancing years, her face contorted

From anything recognizable as

Beauty. I thought it must be the cold wind

That blew her ageing bones and wrinkled flesh

Into a flustered unselfconsciousness.


She needed help to write a cheque. At first

I did not see how strange this was; she spoke

As if it were the most natural thing.

“You’ve got your dinner on it” – but she said

She had not eaten yet. Instructions giv’n,

She left, treated I realized as if

A young child, and yet the faint residue

Of adulthood still hung around her speech.


This was an incident involving a lady who has since passed away, but was then sinking into dementia.


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