Widow Wickramasinghe’s Small Secret

by Frances Green

She’d outlasted a husband, seen four
grown sons spread across the world –
doing well mind – and one daughter
married, contented, a grandmother too.
So Mrs Wickramasinghe decided it was
time to turn her shoulder to heaven;
at the age of seventy-six she began to
edge her way toward eternity.
Three silver sparkling stars in a blue,
midnight violet sky: under her sari by day
shopping for vegetables in Lewisham,
and with only her to know of them by night.
You’re a game old bird, the tattooist
had said – and she had recalled peacocks
stalking crumbling walls of temples
escaping the midday heat of her childhood.
She knew they would find this when she
was laid out finally, washed carefully:
others would wonder at their discovery –
this act of adornment but would know,
she hoped, that she had walked at peace
her feet in soft grass, her heart calmed
and her head cooled in the remembered
breezes of a soft Colomban night.