Drinks with Aunty Milly

You were never tea and biscuits – no-
You were always
Give us a double gin, darling,
And a ciggy hanging from your mouth.
I was just visiting, had had a hip done, so was
A tad unsteady.
You were 81 and only going out to whist drives.
Bugger that, you said. 
We’ll go down the pub.
It’s a good little pub.  I used to be the  barmaid.

So, we went. 
I don’t know who was wobblier, you or me.
All was going well until we reached the pub wall...
The only way in the route you always went.
A small wall right enough – but might as well be Hadrian’s.
You lit a cigarette while we had a think.
Then, (the thought of gin ) we went for it – pushed
Each other over it like two daft kids on a swing.
I remember it was a good night – plenty of stories
In the bar about when you were barmaid –
And your pearl ear-rings cheeky with the memory.
Me the honoured guest from the North – the barbaric
Land !! “Here you are , darling , get that down you ..!”
On the way back, the wall seemed neither here nor
There – insignificant, like my missing hip.
We vaulted it like two springer spaniels easy peasy.
“If your mother asks , tell her we went to mass,
  you said. 
And the moon stopped to light your cigarette –
And we linked arms under the softer southern stars
That mam had warned me  about.
And we sang – Doing the Lambeth Walk – all the way home.

Helen Burke

If you have any comments on this poem,  Helen Burke   would be pleased to hear from you.