The old girl just sits there by the window, watching, she watches the people who walk up and down the street, she waves and they wave back. I observe her watching sometimes and it ain’t a pretty sight, I can tell you that for free. She sort of slouches carelessly but never really looks comfortable, a shock of wild thin grey hair icing her sometimes placid face, her glasses speckled with toothpaste to the point of obscuration, dangling loosely around her neck where she can never find them. Beside her on the long white window sill, with a banana skin hanging out of it, sits a half empty tea cup hiding only a few of the mucky brown rings and smears of its immediate predecessors. Sometimes instead of the banana skin it’s a pear core, or an ice cream wrapper if she’s snuck one when I’m not looking.
Her vantage point is high above the narrow grey bitumen road, offering her an eagle’s eye view. She can also scan the bay, the boats, the water and the weather whenever there’s no human or animal action to observe and forget. It’s usually the same people she watches, people who pass by with the same animals and the same looks on their same faces and she says the same things in the same way and wipes her nose with the same scrunched up tissue over and over until I can stand it no longer and I forget to confiscate it and I know it’ll end up with others in the washing machine and distributed over every garment.
I don’t need to see out the window to know someone is passing, she becomes semi-animated and waves with a big smile. Then she turns to me and says “aren’t we lucky to live here Matty?”. “Who are those people”? “where do they live, they always wave to me, they’re nice people in this street, aren’t we lucky to live here Matty?” And others continue the parade and she waves again and she says “Do I know them, they waved at me?, aren’t we lucky to live here Matty?” and so it goes on and on and she watches……. Kids walk past and they remind me of my siblings and my children and they look up at the old lady watcher and they wave then they huddle together and I’m sure they say “she’s always there watching… ….do you think she’s a witch?” Then they skip away shrieking with laughter as soon as they are out of sight of the watcher who watches,………….. until it’s time for a nap.
© Matthew Penfold 2009
I wrote this for the Graphic Scratch People-watching challenge.
The “old girl” is my mother, if you’re interested to know more check out my poem Use your Brain Now