On a wet afternoon in Wetherspoon’s
I came across her: gazing intently,
like a survivor from some belle époque
into the mirror of her make-up box;
and making herself presentable
for a night out and its chances,
she applied eye shadow and liner
with a practised hand, then blended
a blusher to the natural tint of her skin.
From time to time she paused,
deflating the banter, risqué and obvious,
of daytime regulars in a drawl
as rich as poured molasses.
She said her name was Antoinette –
mixed race, Belizean, and proud
of genes that shaped her cheek bones,
her hair as sleek as Jeanne Duval’s
and which she brushed and brushed,
her rhythm slow, insistent.