WARNING by Jenny Joseph

I came across this poem a long time ago when I was fairly young and loved it. I found it inside a book the other day and thought I would share it, since now I AM that old woman! I expect a lot of you have already read it.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me,

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired

And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

And run my stick along the public railings

And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens

And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

And eat three pounds of sausages at a go

Or only bread and pickle for a week

And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

And pay our rent and not swear in the street

And set a good example for the children.

We have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?

So people who know me are not too surprised

When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple.

Bones

A touch of colour and my face

Jumps into focus

Don’t look too close –

Disintegration has begun

And death will lend it speed

Until my bones are bare and

Waiting for the second coming

 (And won’t my pale bones

Jump and rattle

Expecting light and mercy

New flesh to cling and bring them

From the dark

No mercy from the scald of light

No paint can hide

The fright behind my eyes.