Aunt Emily, brocade and faded lace,
cambric and antimacassars,
observes the onset of winter
like a mangle waiting for a three-pin plug.
She dries her tears in the air,
and thinks of Genghis and Vlad,
her tabbies. They're all the same,
monsters, saracens, killers of skylark,
helminths, she considers.
She reserves an unhealthy disdain
for sales, for bargains, and
for once-only lifetime guarantees
with nothing to pay until armageddon.
Once she ducked herself
from a plastic stool in a park of themes,
and survived by floating.
Watchers dubbed her a witch,
but she claimed it was breaststroke
learned in infancy
from a grandma with cast-iron lungs.
Her special contempt is kept
for the short coughs of keen marines
fighting for islands
with crates of discriminate smoke. And guns.
And the stumps of their legs
left lying for all to see.
Aunt Emily, fond of junket,
places roses and fern
on her double-door, walnut TV,
sits back and sniffs them from a distance,
and only later removes them
to place on a pauper's grave
in the village cemetery.
"Unknown", it says on the tombstone.
She spreads herself beside it
like a picnic.