Redcap Days

On a Pullman train
in the olden times,
a dark-skinned man
with immaculate white gloves
and a beautiful smile
helps a woman on board.
She wears a ratty fox stole,
eyebrows plucked and penciled
on a powdered canvas of wrinkles.
Through lips firmly pursed
in perpetual scowl,
she calls him boy.
In the dining car
with white tablecloths
and shining cutlery,
there is an extensive menu
with elegant service
by a dark-skinned man.
But none of it is to her liking:
the knives and forks aren’t clean enough,
there are crumbs on the carpet,
her soup is too hot, her tea
too weak; and in a strident voice
she calls the waiter boy.
In the smoking car
where passengers engage
in convivial conversations,
she intrudes her opinions,
drinks too many martinis
and calls the barman boy.
When she chokes on an olive
no one comes rushing to her aid;
a voodoo spell, a magic curse?
There’s no evidence to tell,
but her time upon this mortal soil
most thankfully expires.
A Redcap lays her body in a berth,
buttons up the heavy curtains,
respectful of the dead—
her soul left to forever dreams
of serving nasty passengers
with unaccustomed smiles.
— Marge Simon
Marge Simon lives in Ocala, FL. She edits a column for the Horror Writers Association Newsletter, “Blood & Spades: Poets of the Dark Side,” and serves on Board of Trustees. She is the second woman to be acknowledged by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association with a Grand Master Award. She has won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry.
Editor’s Notes: A Pullman porter helping a woman is blurred with an image of a creepy old woman, all colorized red, and made haunting