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Eyeing up the empty seat,

she sat next to me,

a sweet little old lady.

She drew a breath, and talked non-stop.


My daughter-in-law says I’m nasty,

I’m not, I’m just proud.


She tells me about her childhood,

the blitz bomb that blew her fat aunt into the air,

one foot above her fireside chair.


My daughter-in-law says I’m evil.

How dare she, I’m just particular!


She tells me of her Airedale dog,

although, untaught, he did great tricks,

he’d eat with the cats, and begs when he sits.


My daughter-in-law says I’m a       b-i-t-c-h.

I don’t like her much either.


She tells me of the girls and boys,

wartime friends, of climbing trees,

broken wrists, skinned arms, and knees.


My daughter-in-law says I’m cold and cruel.

I’m just stand offish.


Then she’s back in the present,


to the pigeon on the bird table.

Suddenly a Goshawk swooped and dived,

started to eat the pigeon alive,


I put it out of its misery.

Three kettles of boiling water poured –

upon the pigeon ‘til it was no more.


My daughter-in-law calls me names.

I don’t see them now.


Dementia apparent – she tunes in and out.


The Airedale put up a fight when backed into the oven,

it was probably the gas he could smell.

It had to be done – Oh well.


She sat next to me,

the old lady,

The nurse drew a breath and called her name.




The Waiting Room by Alexandra Carr-Malcolm


Photo Credit: Waiting Room. Triangle Road, Hackney, London, 2011. Photograph: Stik

found on Pinterest.