Autumn Afternoons

They keep their make-up in baize lined boxes
powder their cheeks in shop windows
stay up-to-date on discarded headlines
collect coupons, queue for end of season sales

 

They meet on Monday afternoons
play rummy on balconies
sip lemon teas, munch chocolate biscuits
compare grandchildren’s achievements
arguing in old country accents
 

Each passing day they tidy the
confines of their fading existences
featherduster the photographs on the sideboards
straighten prints of Parisian scenes

 

During the mornings their rooms are quiet
the only knocks that disturb their doors
are those of the letterboxes dropping bills
flyers announcing specials on cleaning fluids
family sized pizzas – two for the price of one

 

On these autumn days
if you walk by
their tiny ground floor apartments
as the late afternoon sun dips behind the trees
you may see a shadow behind the curtains
a wrinkled face peering out
a glance that slowly sweeps the street
searching for visitors who do not arrive,
marking their calendars with tidy rows of Xs

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© Johnmichael Simon

2004

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