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.