Almost done, the washing machine hummed
by my legs as I looked out on the world distractedly
and saw old Margaret Hook from up the street.
She is the one that everybody calls the Old Cat Lady.
She was standing by my rotten, rickety picket fence
that separated my pristine garden from the road,
wearing her filthy old yellow Mac and rainbow hat
while her tomcat sat insolently in a tree like a toad.
That stubborn toothless ginger beast of a cat
sat insubordinately up high with a grinning face
watching my fishpond full of golden treasure
below, as that morning’s rain ruffled the surface.
My brand-new washing machine began its spin cycle
with uncustomary sedated vigour, and for a moment
I was distracted as our postwoman appeared at the door,
and I stared out of the dripping window as she went.
In desperation Old Cat Lady tossed cat-treats on the floor,
and I could see from the kitchen they were eaten by the rain.
But Margaret grabbed more and more fistfuls of the stuff
while her feral old tomcat looked down at her with disdain.
The washing cycle came to an end and I cleared the drum.
On the clotheshorse I hung my sodden laundry and I sat
at the kitchen table drinking coffee and opening my bills.
Through the window I could see Margaret’s colourful hat.
Coffee and toast consumed, with cutlery put in the sink,
Half-an-hour had passed me by during that grey, damp morning
and still Margaret persisted in the ever persistent rain,
till she spat viciously, and turned away with no word of warning.
The old feral tomcat, whom I think is named Bertie,
continued to sit about on his solid branch in my tree
watching the ebb and flow of his goldfish supper
while I sat in the living room watching cricket on TV.