She was weighted down by bags,
traipsing through the snow
in brisk brogue shoes –
a proud charity shop find.
Her hair stuck out at angles.
She wore a button-less coat,
grimy skirt and blouse.
The day she knocked at our door
my boys ran to hide. Her name
was Marcie Smith and she wanted
me to sign up for her magazine.
Each word whistled through the gaps
in her teeth.
Marcie lived alone in a mobile home
at the back of our street. Her father,
a Doctor, had long passed. Her mother,
she could never quite please.
I never went round to see her.
Once she phoned and forgot where she was.
Then I heard her chuntering to her voices:
the hateful contents inside her head.
Still I never went round to see her.
Every Christmas Marcie bought us gifts,
things she’d found at jumble sales,
or had won on tombolas:
a box of bath salts, embroidered handkerchiefs.
I’d invite her in to play scrabble.
She always won, except once
when she lost her tooth in an After Eight
mint and failed to clear her letters.
In her final years, she inherited a dog.
I’m glad he made her happy.
Marcie died, alone and of a stroke.
Her funeral –
an estranged sister,
a Liberal Democrat Councillor,
a few people from her local history group –
the only time I ever went round to see her.
It’s a shame not many people
knew Marcie was clever, funny,
kind. I rarely think of her now,
except maybe when someone offers
me an After Eight mint,
or whips me at scrabble.