Whoever She Was

by Carol Ann Duffy

They see me always as a flickering figure
on a shilling screen. Not real. My hands,
still wet, sprout wooden pegs. I smell the apples
burning as I hang the washing out.
Mummy, say the little voices of the ghosts
of children on the telephone. Mummy
 
A row of paper dollies, clean wounds
or boiling eggs for soldiers. The chant
of magic Words repeatedly. I do not know.
Perhaps tomorrow. If we’re very good.
The film is on a  loop. Six silly ladies
torn in half by baby fists. When they
think of me, I’m bending over them at night
to kiss. Perfume. Rustle of silk. Sleep tight.
 
Where does it hurt? A scrap of echo clings
to the bramble bush. My maiden name
sounds wrong. This was the playroom.
There are the photographs. Making masks
from turnips in the candlelight. In case they come.
 
Whoever she was, forever their wide eyes watch her
as she shapes a church and steeple in the air.
She cannot be myself and yet I have a box
of dusty presents to confirm that she was here.
You remember the little things. Telling stories
or pretending to be strong. Mummy’s never wrong.
You open your dead eyes to look in the mirror
which they are holding to your mouth. 

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.  Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally.  Today it has more than 4000 members worldwide and publishes The Poetry Review.

With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

More about the Poetry Society…

Tweets @PoetrySociety

Excited to read at The Poetry Review winter launch this evening (@PoetrySociety) alongside @soshunetwork and Fleur Adcock 🍊🍊🍊 (which seems to be at max capacity but there's a wait list here > poetrysociety.org.uk/event/the-poet…) Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Young people look for meaning. But poetry offers our escape | Bridget Minamore theguardian.com/commentisfree/…

If you missed @nancycampbelle's and Robert Powell's exhibition launch last week, here's a rewind of a couple of the canal-inspired filmpoems we screened bit.ly/ofwater1 #artonthewaterways Retweeted by The Poetry Society

"Pretty ain't it..." Glorious show of school poetry books by @felthamgirl. Fewer school anthologies used now than in the 80's, but at least they now feature women, theguardian.com/books/2019/jan… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

I've got 1 London face-to-face poetry surgery available @PoetrySociety Cafe on Fri 1 Feb, 3.30 for an hour's feedback on your poetry. Who would like it? poetrysociety.org.uk/event/katrina-… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

@PoetrySociety and @no1_emily got me to do a poetry mixtape which was so much fun to do! twitter.com/poetrysociety/… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

#snowwatch Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast In a field I looked into going past, And the ground almost covered smooth in snow, But a few weeds and stubble showing last. Source: familyfriendpoems.com/poem/desert-pl…

test Twitter Media - #snowwatch

Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

Source: https://t.co/E9lbXzS3wy https://t.co/c9TLX1nrQA

Illustrator @manshenlo graces the world of animation with her quietly-powerful characters > buff.ly/2RIP0KY Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Offering access to the extensive archives of seven acclaimed titles including @PNReview, @poetrywales and The Poetry Review (published by @PoetrySociety), the Poetry Collection is an invaluable resource for literary enthusiasts bit.ly/2ICUoG7 ✒️ Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Two months until #NationalPoetryCompetition winners are announced! In anticipation, join us for a night of poetry from 2017 commended poets Joseph Butler, @janieslavin , and judge @hannahlowepoet at London’s Poetry Café, 6 Feb at 7:30! Book your tickets: bit.ly/npccafe