The clothes will be musty,
Borrowed, unwashed, not properly pressed.
She sits in a sepia underworld:
White cotton with yellow stains,
Pinched face old-woman brown.
I buy her for 75p.
The shop owner, with a weary headshake, haggles, but only a little -
She’s not worth the effort.
She’s not the alderman’s wife, local-girl-makes-good or even nice-to-look-at.
Just a life gone past and slipped into pages
Of Maurice Walsh or Mary Webb.
There’s no name or date or endearment.
I guess it’s 1910
By the high hair and collar.
After some days, I see ‘Bedford’
Stamped in blotted letters on her faded sleeve.
© MARY BYRNE