Mutton dressed up as lamb

Time and again the ash-blonde woman wandered

Along the gangway to the duty-free,

Cigarette poised just so, her sway exactly

Matching the salty swagger of the sea.


Mutton dressed up as lamb, my mother whispered,

And when she turned I saw that it was so;

Beneath the makeup and the white-gold halo

The face was bony, skin pulled tight and dry.


Funny how you always seem to notice

The same ones coming back as going there.

She’d found herself a friend, some sort of salesman,

With braces, rolled up sleeves and slicked-back hair.


She cried as though the very world was ending

(She would be drunk, of course, they always are)

The man in braces all the while pretending

He wasn’t with her. Later, though, I wondered


How it comes to be, that a woman of a certain age

And uncertain pedigree

Should howl like a dog in a very public place

While friends and strangers

Simply turn away.



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