Anne Ryland’s first collection, Autumnologist, (Arrowhead Press, 2006) was shortlisted for The Forward Prize for Best First Collection (2007). Her poems are widely published in magazines and anthologies. She lives in Berwick-upon-Tweed, where she teaches adults and runs writing workshops for community groups.
My name would not be your middle name.
You wouldn’t inherit my listomania, I promise:
I’d renounce list-making in honour of your birth.
The term Muscular Dystrophy would not be sewn within you.
I would not pass on my stony ova
or the euphemisms stuffed up the sleeve like handkerchiefs.
Thank You wouldn’t be your mantra; it trapped me at the amber light.
You wouldn’t stare at every dog and see only its bite.
You would never know that ‘worry’ derives from ‘wyrgan’, to strangle:
I’d lock the door to my mother’s worrymongery
but I would be your guide in the storehouse of the thesaurus,
assure you there’s no such curse as being too clever.
I’d even show you how to blow a trumpet in a long and steady tone.
My desk and my blue propelling pencil would be yours.
I’d hand you your great-grandmother’s last letter to her daughter
from the hospital – ‘bye bye, dear’
All my words would be yours, so you’d observe me on the page,
learn all that I am and was and should have been.
And, my daughter, each night I’d hum you a lullaby.
You would remember me as a song, not an apology.
Poem published: Mslexia, No. 34. Runner-up, Mslexia Women’s Poetry Competition, 2007.
Publications: Autumnologist, Arrowhead Press, 2006, ISBN 1-904852-11-4, £7.50.
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