That demon thing that drove her knew its trade.
God, how she Brassoed, scrubbed, black-leaded, made
our lives three spotless purgatories and when
she scoured her Fridays out we dawdled home
to waiting brush and duster. Cleansers foamed
down antiseptic years and at their end
she left two separate legacies — we wear
the scars of penal Fridays still and then
that memory of another gift — she shared
her other world — she read to us. And we
ran choking through Pompeii, sailed west with Leigh,
robbed under arms, were kidnapped, saw them bring
dead Hereward to rest, dodged Roundheads, ran
with Hawkeye, rode the Dover mail-coach and
heard Carton speak of far, far better things.
Each night, far into night, these heroes sat
around our lamp and kitchen table.
Children can forgive a lot for that.