No one would have called her pretty
wire wool hair of implausible colour
and tongue sharpened on two ex-husbands.
Her name was of a well-known flower
no scent or petals
maybe it was winter in her life
a patient gardener prune for spring.
People said she was witty
had been a prankster in faded years
seeming ninety five
to a twenty two-year-old.
Her workday appeared to consist of solving crosswords.
many years later I came to appreciate
this strange honesty.
No subterfuge or pretence
the passive tools of defiance openly visible
a book of puzzles, a dictionary, scrap paper. Refreshing.