Professor Avril Henry: An alternative and very tardy eulogy
You instantly expand my provincial horizons.
Just by me seeing you.
It is 1988.
I am Goth.
You are terrifying.
You are awesome.
Your mind as sharp as your nails
Tapping a facsimile Biblia Pauperum.
Rolling back the centuries.
You are your own iconography.
I have never seen a woman in a corduroy Kaftan.
I have never heard of structuralism.
Nor considered that the skills gained in reading ancient texts
Could translate anywhere and everywhere.
You were right.
One day I was late.
I was terrified.
Into the room, tentative.
A voice booms, “Ah Jane.”
But you are nowhere to be seen.
I believed in that moment you had
Transcended and were teaching from
But you were on the floor.
In hideous pain.
You taught that seminar
Your cat flicks.
Your purple house.
I remember word for word
Your pearls of wisdom.
Quote them to my daughters
Thirty years on.
Your hennaed hair
Should have clashed
With those purples and pinks.
And that day
Back into the redness of an Exeter autumn.
When we all gasped.
You were grey.
Age had swept over your head
And the Piers Plowman reference was not lost
As we were good students
Because of our teacher.
And when I struggled
You suggested therapy and meditation.
That’s what I do now, transferrable skills. Who knew? Did you know?
And when I began a tentative relationship
I brought him to meet you
And you terrified him.
And we are still together.
You are a deity in my pantheon.
Goddess of kaftans and courage,
Self actualisation and certainty,
Clarity and creativity.
Avril to the last.