We met as she trundled her rubbish
to the communal dustbin. We were lost.
“She won’t speak English”, I told my daughter.
“Do you?” Jane asked. Straightening
her stooping shoulders, she replied,
“I am English.” Her leathery face creased
into a denture-white smile.

In her youth, she manipulated searchlights;
wore a uniform in the cool green of England.
Eighty-two now, brown as a nutmeg,
in a small white villa in Minorca,
Barbara is the local eccentric.
Her home is filled with bric-a-brac
…and a dog.

Compassion for her compatriots,
she let us use her phone.
“We’re here for two weeks,”
we told her. “You’ll love it,” she said.
“I’ve been here sixteen years.”
We pondered on the mystery
of the road travelled between.

© Marion Sharville

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