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The Old Woman

jennifer pierson

At six
death was a day off from school
to march in a line
two rows of navy jumpers
on either side of the casket
passed the old women we barely knew
who lived with us in the convent school
but who wasnıt one of the sisters
the woman with braided white hair
somebodyıs old aunt perhaps
who always smelled bad at night
who never talked to us
the little ones
who at last was sanctified in the cathedral of St. Fidelis
Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us,
by little girls shuffling past her
wondering what mystery had so suddenly
released us from our tables
and leaving no surprise inside the coffin
but the same sullen old woman
we would now record as our very first death.

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