Journey’s End

Another one of my fiendishly cheerful little pieces…why do my poems always turn out so miserable, huh? I'm quite a cheerful kind of girl really, though you'd never guess it!

This was a piece of work set as a narrative poem from the point of view of someone else. It was going to be a nice little rhyming ditty about a nice little old lady going to collect her pension, and kind of ended up as a black elegy for the old people trapped in the flats where I used to live in Stoke Newington……. hmmmmm

Journey’s End

Every week, I make my own pilgrimage,
Rising carefully at the stroke of eight.
Preparing the details of the voyage,
Ensuring that I will never be late.

Making now the ordered preparations,
Grilling the toast and then brewing the tea.
So I never miss my assignations,
I check my handbag and look for my key.

The drawers first, girdle, stockings last of all.
And then the thermals and my woolly vest.
Mustn’t forget my boots are in the hall.
Jersey, the cardigan I save for best.

The smartest skirt, and tuck my vest inside.
Find my good coat, my flowery hat for show,
Pick up my handbag ready for my ride.
Lock the front door behind me, time to go.

The lift’s not worked since nineteen eighty-two
Five floors up in the sky is a long way.
Bessie says though, “You’re lucky to be you,
Some of the other old dears take all day.”

When I get out the block it looks like rain,
Can’t tell upstairs, my windows won’t open.
Too far to get my umbrella again,
In this place, everything seems broken.

“They screw them shut deliberate”, Bessie says,
“The windows, to stop us all jumping out.
You can’t do bloody nothing nowadays.
They’d charge us for the privilege, no doubt.

In your rent book, itemised jumping fee.”
“I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.”
That’s what I say, to Bessie over tea.
“Make the buggers pay for the distraction.”

Here I am finally at my journey’s end
Join the pension queue in the same old way.
It’s a bit lonely without my old friend,
They’ve already been to take her away.

Today I’ve another destination,
To the florists to find a wreath.
Though it’s had to be a quick cremation,
about the only thing left was her teeth.

The miracle was how she managed it,
Unscrewed the balcony door with a knife.
The zimmer frame over the parapet,
Twenty-three floors to extinguish a life.

Bessie said, “They left us up there to die,
It was cheaper than state euthanasia.
Us paying rent, for coffins in the sky”
But I still wish that I could have saved her.

The tube is taking forever again,
They all seem to since London Transport went.
The OAP card saves on bus and train,
But I have to use it to pay the rent.

The council, to save some more of our cash.
Moved the cemetery far out in the sticks.
Fifteen changes, and I’m too old to dash.
Believe me at ninety you’re not that quick.

The Shenfield train, it will never arrive,
No time to get to the crem at Wanstead.
Make my decision, don’t want to survive,
I jump, it’s what Bessie would have wanted.

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