The other women here are older,
walking, between grave and trough,
half bent with watering cans,
their knees slow and stiff.
Their hands, tidying grass, with the same assured sweep
that once pushed hair off husbands’ foreheads.
They pat the earth, backs bent, broad soft backs,
the lines of practical bras under Marks and Spencer shirts,
fleshy and reassuring, like memories of grandmothers,
their elbows, as they kneel and plant and weed,
hanging loose, soft and wrinkled as tissue paper.
I am young, in this place. Firm-fleshed. Straight-backed.
Conspicuous, as I perform the same motions,
the ritual genuflection of weeding,
a novitiate of grief among the practiced sisters,
carrying my offering of your dirty plastic toy truck
to the fountain,
where I plunge it into the water, and scrub.
Margaret Pritchard- Birthday