Gypsy Rose Marie


Her name was Gypsy Rose Marie according to the sign
Hung on her door – a ‘Fortune Teller To The Stars’
Who consisted, judging by the photographs she’d put on show,
Of Jeanette Kranky, Carla Lane and Eddie Large.
But the stars quite clearly hadn’t paid her much, because her home
Throughout my childhood was just a wooden shack,
Leaning at a troubled angle by the travel agents’ wall;
A peeling green façade, the inside painted black.
And her face was carved from teak, although her bright blue eyes shone out
As sad as oceans underneath a clear night.
Time had scored her leather skin exposing pale pith beneath,
A mask that shut her insecurities up tight –
Predicting futures, always cheerful, though if anybody knew
How cruel life was, then it would certainly be her.
And behind her long bead curtain she cut a figure that, as kids,
We found formidable. Throughout those childhood years
Our parents never saw her once; she was invisible – a witch
Within her hovel, full of gypsy guile and cunning.
Then one day the shack was gone. Hypothermia, they said.
It seems the old girl hadn’t seen the cold snap coming.


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