Caroline Gilfillan remembers Mrs Myers

Mrs Myers


Squat, with a trace of a moustache, you crinkle

currant eyes as you hand back my essay

about foolish Othello on a sticky lemon afternoon.


Stumpy, hair bristling with brains,

in a voice like burnt toast you broadcast

no-nonsense advice to the lower sixth:


Don’t work on
Saturdays for Timothy Whites

Don’t sell your youth
for nineteen and nine

You’ll never get it
back again 


Mrs Myers, I take home what you say.

Parrot it to my red-cheeked mother, who pauses

from her assault on the aluminium pots and pans, 


lifts her nose and sniffs, as if she can scent

your odour of chalk, rose talc and something

musty, like a trunk left too long in the loft.


I didn’t know you’d vanish soon after

I left the perfume counter.  Mrs Myers

you gave me a push, a nudge.  See how far


I’ve come along the uneven path,

passing the ducklings scudding the ditch

while you’re still wearing those wooden beads,


that too-long cardigan, still holding

a pile of books wedged under one withered arm. 



* Caroline Gilfillan is a fiction writer, poet, and dramatist and lives in North Norfolk.  Her poem The Painter was nominated for the
Forward Prize for the best individual poem in 2007 
and in the same year she was selected for the
Escalator scheme for fiction writers.
  She has just published 'Yes' a poetry pamphlet (Hawthorn Press).


  1. Anonymous

    This is one of the best poems I have read in a while. Delicious characterisation.

  2. Anonymous

    Lovely, evocative, celebratory and moving. What a delicious portrait and fitting tribute.

  3. Anonymous

    Caroline always writes with clarity and poise, every word and image selected to bring some event, scenario right into your focus. I love it.

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