Fairer Sex
by Ann Howells


We visit on her birthday;
nurses have tied her hair
with a frilly pink bow,
as when she was a schoolgirl.
At ninety-two,
it seems incongruous:
a frivolous swirl of satin
in sparse grey hair.

Not one of her
better days, she wonders
what she’s doing here
in this strange narrow bed,
this unfeminine room.
But when Doctor enters,
she pats her hair,
simpers. Once a tramp
always a tramp, mutters
her ninety-year-old sister.






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