Boudicca In A Grey Cardigan
A tribute to a very special lady.
Scarce five feet tall, she was Boudicca in a
Grey cardigan. Her wooden ruler – both staff and spear –
Recklessly waved over bowed heads, her voice firm and strong.
A voice for chapel, they said, to shake Satan from the eaves.
We children were no match for her and when she shouted
We held up desk lids to deflect her onslaught, and snatched at
Well-thumbed books, side glancing to confirm our choice.
She taught maths, with the rhythmic smack of the ruler counting
Numbers by rote. Each thump dented facts into our memory.
Literature was new to me and I swooned at the purr of words.
I feared her – I feared everything in those days – my faltering speech
Betrayed me. Shy outcast child, too hopeless to speak, hiding at the back.
Somehow she found a spark, fuelled it, spoke in a language new to me.
Freed my tongue from tripping, unbound my mind, showed me stars
Where dust once lay. Recounted stories and promised hope.
One term down, she read the results. I was second, moved from last.
Her eyes fixed on me and came the whisper: “you let a boy beat you,”
Second term, I was first. In a dusty classroom, murky windows, books with
cracked spines and missing pages. Chairs that scraped a splintered floor.
I found my heaven there, became a glutton for knowledge, made it home.