Imagine, it’s morning, my rusty Raleigh
hissing with anger, sliding on Station Road,
darting along by red-eyed Cambrians
who are crying for Lady Spencer.
If nothing ever changed the trains would have run late,
but that day the tea-lady shook her old wig no.
Punting was only for tourists and undergrads;
writing, grading, for Homerton College students.
They buried her the September I turned twenty-five.
She had never been a favourite with any of her husband’s family.
Austen we believed but something was wrong with the timing.
Back-to-school blues wasn’t what the little princes felt.
I taught French in a small fishing place
where they frowned on romantic affairs,
where under-eye bags were as dark as tattoos,
and cigarette breath warned me the kid better do well.
In class John always read the clouds instead of his book.
Do you know that Lady Di died in Paris, miss?
Why she had to go I don’t know; bring the felt figurines
–better suited for describing deer hunting than grammar.
Once he asked if I was really French because my name
and slanted eyes made him want to scream in Chinese.
Harrods surely wasn’t British because of Dodi Al-Fayed.
Excellent heart and large fortune made a dubious match.
That September the pubs of England served bitter lager.
Drunk lads knocked on the porter’s door and ran away
laughing, some threw up on his mat and staggered away
crying. Oh, yesterday came suddenly, Lady Di died.
(Sabine Huynh, published in Homerton College News Roll, University of Cambridge)