On my street walk intriguing life stories.
Secrets are revealed in stride and posture.
Those of extreme gait are most emphatic
Yet so mystifying that I could write
For each, alternative biographies.
The woman is old yet tall and big boned.
Her upper body is angled at least
Forty five degrees to the hips and waist.
She climbs the modest hill to the bus stop
Like a mountaineer up a sheer rock face,
With stick, half an hour for fifty metres.
She never relaxes her determined scowl,
Avoiding eye contact with all who pass.
So insistently self-affirming that
To offer support would seem insulting.
Long term residents know another story.
In a wheelchair, she was pushed up the hill
By a man, for who she was little more
Than a convenient theatrical perop.
Similar age, he looked much fitter, yet
Overdramatised his toiling effort.
When a woman or girl passed he paused
To make lewd, crude and suggestive remarks.
His task gave him relative immunity.
For his charge repeated ignominy.
The man has gone. Perhaps an odd woman
Welcomed his proposal. Or another
Battered him so badly that he is
Now in timeless medical custody
Either outcome is possible in my street.
Poetic justice would have his patient
Gather her strength, murder, put the body
In the freezer. As elderly care goes
In our community, none would notice.
And the women of the locality
Would swear he had gone to Vladivostok.
Many morals for this tale are possible.
The obvious will do. Solitary
Self-sufficiency is never worse
A state than intolerable coupledom.
Martin McLean's Other Poems
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