the face in the window
every day on the way to school we pass by Loollabelle's,
and she busy with the builders’ doorstep orders,
a line of students from the Howard impatient,
finds time to wave, acknowledge our passing.
her mother lives in the Barnes Wallis Association flats,
right on the edge of the KGV, past the St Lawrence hall;
she’s seated by the window in the mornings, eyes still sharp
noting all that is life and not life in the street.
sometimes we stop, sometimes she stops us,
asks the girls what they’re doing that day,
when next they’ll be baking a tray of cookies,
and can she reserve her special chocolaty batch?
she knows my daughters by name, a monumental memory –
rooted as she is at the crossroads to the village schools,
a portal to the past and present, her lines sketched into the clouds
which scudding guide each young life onward to their written ends.
then one morning she was not there; my youngest wondered why.
discretely, while waiting for a hot chocolate, i asked.
Loolla said she did not want my daughters to cry.
“Tell them my mother missed her husband so much
she went to be with him forever,”
and that is what I relay to them,
but there are times when we pass and we see her reflection still,
eyes bright as the source of the first light,
watching over all who pass by her window,
and i swear i see a plate of cookies by her hand.