She is passing, has passed. Past. Gone. She sang, she drew. She was a star. A light. Her face was etched with years of smiles. A child-like woman, ever flirtatious. She had style, grace. She was tenacious. And I loved her. She preferred the company of men. She deferred to them. Put them first. Always. And yet, she was a proud spinster. She made her own way. Giving up her singing at forty and forging an entirely new career for herself as a hospital administrator. I remember our lunches at the Grand. Lobster followed by hot chocolate. I’ve messed myself, she said to me afterwards, her face downcast as she came out of the cubicle. My love. Sagging elastic-waisted crimplene trousers under a mink coat. Her legs leaning inwards. A sickly child (I had my own cow, she’d say, to give me milk) she’d outlived all her siblings. She sang. A querulous voice at the end. The last time we spoke on the phone she didn’t know me. She was polite but cold. The time before we had exchanged our love. She knew, she knew I loved her. She met Munch, several times. My friend lived next door, she said, we used to steal apples from his garden. She had a passion for her 45 year old Spanish gym instructor. We’d speak English together, she’d say. She took him to the opera. She believed it was reciprocated. She was ninety then. She died yesterday at 5 am. Aase Thurn-Basberg 29.07.1921 – 31.03.2016. Rest in peace.

We see her daily. A cadaverous face under an anorak hood. She leans against a wall, her scrawny bottom perched on a window shelf. Still wearing her tartan slippers, she draws heavily upon a cigarette. The door to her flat, ajar. Her chin curves up, nearly meeting her nose. Under that hood, she is just chin and nose.

It was a mass of flapping white. On the greensward just by the Tattoo shop. A flurry of wings and airborne feathers. A grey-haired woman in the corner, hands dipping into a 10p COOP recycled bag and throwing bread. The seagulls diving, grabbing, fighting for every crumb. Do they come each day? Do they know the time she will come? Do they expect her? Word had obviously got around, there were hundreds of them. Does it make her feel good, needed?

I am sad. I am grieving. Let it be. Today is for her. My heart at a loss. Lost. The sky, a milky stasis, knows.


By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.