Her eyes nestle in puffy pouches
of yellowed skin.
Her thinned white hair,
washed and set once a week,
straggles across her shiny scalp
forgetful of its onetime auburn fire.
Dora’s blocked nose snorts,
stuffy in the dawning day.
She rubs her stiff swollen knees,
flexes her locked knuckles
and listens to the cracks.
Beneath the jellied streaks
of her stretch-marked years,
her gastric gases gurgle
and warn of upsets to come.
the backs of her paper-dry hands
hold ridges when gently pinched.
She lives in fear of accidents,
and defies her doctor’s orders
to drink more water.
A downy fuzz haloes her jawline
and her features are smudged.
Photographs, taken over years,
record the changes;
swung by hormones
first to androgyny
then beyond to neutral.
Dora pours her morning treat,
builder’s brew, two sugars
and avoids the kitchen mirror.
The postie whistles nearby.
He calls through her open window,
Hi darling, you look ravishing today.
Life smiles back into her face
and she winks. Her fancy’s tickled
and stirs an appetite for romance
in large print.
She consults the Radio Times
for her favourite black and whites.
To dream, oh to dream.
It’s not all over yet,
though amply built
she’s yet to sing the blues.
My feet carry me, move me, if shod right
on paths that set me free. My long, flat
feet. First my father’s and now mine.
How they suffered, tight in shoes
too small. Blistered and bleeding,
they begged for space to wriggle toes,
stride out and dance on cobble stones.
Mam Gu’s Pies
Fruit pies on metal plates oozed
tart apple, bilberry, sugar, swollen
full between thin short crusts,
the top warm, brown and glazed.
I ate slice after slice, after slice,
juice dribbled down my chin,
stained my tongue, my skin,
marked me all yours. As I was
and would remain forever.
Mam Gu – Welsh – grandmother – pron. Mam Ghee