the last bid

margaret sits in the flickering gloom
cancerous queen of the old front room
presses a B&H to her lips
watching antiques road trip
I think that wonnacott’s such a wheeze
she says, nodding at the little TV

margaret worked for the HMRC
(she didn’t want to confess it to me
because people can be seriously off
when it comes to money and all that stuff)
she says she was in her element there
up to her elbows in people’s affairs

margaret nursed her dying mother
endless nights watching TV together
blind date, ruth rendell, mr bean
furosemide, ramipril, mirtazapine
she’d never have believed it if you’d said
one day she’d be the one in bed

margaret takes one last long drag
then carefully grinds out her fag
as wonnacott models a regency muff
and worries if it’ll earn enough
she shakes her head and sighs
wonders when the woman died

margaret has her things to hand
remote control, juice and contraband
cheerfully waves me out the door
as wonnacott paces the auction room floor
and the muff bottoms out on the closing bid
and the gavel comes down on eighty quid

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