She was an only child but like a sister.
Homa. The sort of person who could melt
your heart unless you hardened it against her.
‘I’ve got a slug, a slug!’ I’d yell and pelt
downhill, stuffing a dead leaf down her shirt.
Homa, so gullible, who never learned
how many hardened hearts there are to hurt
girls who love freely where love isn’t earned.
How her eyes shone! She chattered like a bird.
She tapped out rhythms, tunes for me to guess,
used tomboy nicknames, however absurd.
Homa, so easily reduced to tears
by slights or sins she’d happily confess,
who mothered me through all my heartless years.
These little smiles that fill my eyes with tears
mean nothing really, signals between women
who pass each other on the street as strangers,
as casual friends whose names are now forgotten
or local friends who stop to say hello
at bus stops, coughing little coughs like Lily,
Chinese Lily from Rouge, her shop, but also
English Lily who used to welcome me
by name and I’d respond in rhyme, whose sweet
presence stood at odds with her black Goth gear.
She’s gone to art school now and down the street
Bake Street café isn’t the same without her.
Why tears though? I don’t know – the loneliness
of women’s lives, perhaps, that smiles express.