She walks past me, eyes cast down,
her warrior eyes unwilling to run
the gauntlet of my challenging gaze.
A battle axe, the children call her,
grim-faced, ageing, wrinkles
bone-deep sculpting her skin,
a grimaced frown, much practiced,
worn like a fencing mask to keep
the world’s sharp blades at a distance.
Over her shoulder, the mail-pouch
slung like a berserker’s shield,
brimful of letters,
bills in all probability,
yet exact contents unknown
until thumb or paper-knife
slits the envelope to reveal
the sanctity of its secrets.
Secrets: what secrets
does she carry inside her skin:
hope and joy or sorrow and tears?
She walks past me,
wrapped her in her coat of mail,
staring at the ground beneath her feet..
When she looks up,
a feral ferocity burns in her eyes.
I cannot match the fierceness of her gaze.