What did Victorian ladies
take with them to
remind them of home?
What handheld bit of trivia, a lock of hair,
a photograph, a cousin’s
letter, a packet of good English tea,
did they stick into their portmanteau
as they travelled, first to Brighton, then
to Africa, down the Nile, past pyramids,
following the call of Cheops and Ramses?
Fearless they were, their spectacles mirrored
all that was not home, those
intrepid Victorian ladies, later
writing books and living in spare rooms,
shuttled from house to house, barely family,
a dotty aunt, and yet,
once they gazed on rainbows over rapids,
they followed porters down the Kinshasa and dared
to dream of absolute freedom.