A Song for the Old Woman

Sunny park through railings

Her worn sandals

almost started a friction fire

on the dry grass

as she skittered up to me.

Hair all medusa-like

and face flushed like a peach,

she screamed of devils and sin

and pointed her bony talons

right at me.


Mothers with pushchairs

on black tarmac playgrounds,

and school-kids smoking

behind the old oak trees,

looked on in amusement.

For a brief moment

in the park that day

all of their problems

evaporated in the sun

as this pantomime

unfolded before them.


I’ll admit, it took me a minute

to find the funny side

of this warbling women

reciting her righteous litany

naming me the King of Hell.

And when finally I imagined

my pitchfork and tail

and a laugh broke loose

it only caused her

to double her efforts.

Her oversized head

bobbed around so much

I thought the snakes on her head

were going to climb down

in protest

and slither away.


Her fervour now spent

she trudged off

less than a shadow,

but still muttering

the good fight,

and I could hear

the silent applause

all around me.

Now I don’t condone crazy,

but I have to confess –

I will always be grateful

to that senile loon

for taking the time

to brighten my afternoon.

© 2015, Gavin Zanker.

Keyboard photo by Nana B Agyei licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

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