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16 November 2010
to see the old couple, Javanese,
who’d stayed at our hotel.
(Indonesians holiday in Bali too.)
Our friend Linda was with us.
We couldn’t stop staring
at the two teenage daughters,
nor restrain our praise for their beauty.
(Recollecting, I gasp even now.)
‘We,’ the old lady said,
‘Think you are beautiful womans.’
Another time we lounged,
after dinner, on Putrha’s veranda.
His pretty wife Tini remarked,
‘We walk down the street
and everyone calls you beautiful.
I hear them all say, “Cantik, cantik”’.
‘Which one?’ I asked, thinking
of course they must mean Linda;
of course it couldn’t be me.
Tini leaned over and tapped me
firmly on the knee
with her index finger. ‘You!’
For the last thirty-one years
their forgotten words
have been less than whispers
against that older voice in my head
which calls me a plain girl: mine.
November PAD Chapbook Challenge 2010: 12
Prompt: a ‘forget what they say’ poem.