Every night now, and it’s the fifth night
of a week-long cruise down the Danube.
She sits there, a lone woman, must be eighty
if she’s a day, they say.
She drinks cocktails, watches the band,
stays right till they’ve finished their last set.
She buys them drinks in the break, and
they always sit with her.
And then, when the music starts up,
she sits alone again.
Surely not, surely a grandmother wouldn’t be so devoted?
A lover? No! She’s too old. The band members too young.
A groupie? A lone, single groupie, they decide.
By day they see her, bundled up, scarf on against
the chill spring air. Escorted, one hand guiding her
always one of the young men from the band.
She doesn’t look at them staring, walks on,
averts her eyes. Is she ashamed?
Does she travel alone?
Every week, till the season’s finished, through chilly
April days right through to the end, to October’s balmy nights.
The sights, so new to them, are
part of her living room scenery now.
It’s just what she chooses to do with her summers.
The band member, a cherished great-nephew.
This year she’s dying,
fading away, cancer’s spreading.
It’s just what she chooses to do,
how she’s going to live, this one last summer.
There’s nothing more to it.
(First published on incwadi)