poem with audio by Melissa Mann

the bag she keeps her mind in

hangs off
her zimmer frame,
the crash barrier
that goes everywhere
with her.

she’s sat down
on herself,
a high seat chair
with her name
written in blue biro
on a strip of Elastoplast
stuck to the backrest.

ninety three,
maud braithwaite is
one of a dozen
elderly residents
strung in rows
across the day room
like worn beads.

the bag’s in her lap now,
her fingers and thumbs
worrying the zip
trying to get
at herself.

she pulls out
a package,
saying to no one
in particular
that her mother
just gave her it
and wouldn’t take
any money for it.

it’s a silk purse,
vintage,
with a silver clasp
and sequins
hole-punched
out of rainbows.

it’s wrapped in
a pair of white
disposable pants

“to keep it nice
‘cause everything nice
spoils.”

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Check Out by Melissa Mann 

I’ve been in ASDA for eight minutes, wiping the soles of my best shoes on the entrance mat. It takes it out of me all that wiping, so I rest on my stick and look to see if she’s still on the five items or less till. I smooth a hand down my lapel, hand catching on the badge I’m wearing. It’s a picture of me in uniform stuck to a bit of old cereal box and wrapped in cling film. I’ve written my name next to it in biro – NEVILLE. It’s fastened to my suit with a bobby pin.

Now I’ve got my puff back, I shuffle towards the fruit and veg aisle, shoppers trolleying past me on either side like a recurring dream. My legs are having a grumble; this is the third time I’ve been here today. It’s like the bones are jostling with each other inside my trousers as I walk. Sad business getting old; used to be the best square-basher in the regiment in my day. I make it as far as the melons, shelves and shelves of them – dimpled galia, pert cantaloupes, smooth-skinned honeydews – pornography to a widowed old man like me. Continue reading