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.