Eighty Words A Minute

It was February and the wind was bitter, the municipal park

Empty apart from us, who’d come to honour

Cynthia’s redundancy. I’ve got my skills, was all she had to say,

Eighty words a minute, girls, they can’t take those away.


It’s not the end of the world, she said.

So we slopped the wine into the paper cups

And drank to the world not having ended, quite,

And the cold wind blew away


The perfume she always called Anay Anay.

Those long nails curled around her cigarette,

Those narrowed eyes, that mouth made smaller still

To drag the smoke inside.


She clattered up and down on spiked heels

And every now and then she’d pause to stare

Hard down into the patent leather,

As if to read her future clearer there.


She’s got her skills, they can’t take those away.

They take your face and your fertility,

The bloom of youth, your sexuality,

Your hope, your laughter and your dignity,

But eighty words a minute – no, they won’t take those away.

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