I knew a woman from Newcastle
who was born in 1898 and died in 2003.
She used to come to our house at weekends
and not eat cheese sandwiches.
We never really talked to each other
because I was young
and she was bored of human beings.
One Sunday, when I moaned
about having school tomorrow,
she told me how every other morning
when she was 10 years old,
with a lunchbox in her hand,
she and her mum would walk past
the bodies of dead men in the River Tyne
who had stumbled out of pubs the night before
into the pitch black, waterside streets.
She had the hair of someone
who used to enjoy eating her crusts.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

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