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.


© gee 2021
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A poem that strikes a chord, Gee. It reminds me of my scholastic days when teachers were feared for their disciplinary attitudes but also respected for their commitment to education and encouraging pupils to improve.


It just needs someone to lift that “dust” and the everything clicks into place. Where would we be without teachers like her? You’ve made a very good home for knowledge.


Oh, this is lovely, Gee. Oh to be back there again (but with wiser all the same) eh? I remember I had such a teacher. He was everything extreme: A vegetarian, a communist, an enthusiast for Esperanto, a scruff pot, but above all that he was a brilliant teacher who inspired me and others to sometimes think outside the box. There are teachers and there are teachers, I think your Boudicca in a grey cardigan, and my scruff pot, were born to it rather than taught it. Lovely trip down memory lane, your poem. Thank you for sharing and making… Read more »

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