Always smiling from a kind, round, cheeky face
Surmounted by wavy hair,
Eyes alive with laughter and intelligence –
Such was Cristina Mills.
She walked with a jaunty swirl
That showed a love of life,
While you scarcely noticed
The twisted, arthritic hands.
‘You will understand one day, Billy’
‘That love is not what you think it is’
‘One day you will find out.’
We sheltered under the cinema canopy
One ragged rainy night
And she sang softly,
‘Oh the hills my friends’
And though I would have died
Sooner than ask her to sing it again,
I thought it the sweetest sound in all the world
And will always remember the song and the rain.

October 1995 (1943)