For My Mother

Anne Ryland

a letter from a daughter who fears being motherless
    at forty

a letter to promise I'll keep writing after you've gone
    and will wait for your new address

a letter so brazen with all your taboos
    that it'll scandalize you out of death

a letter that records the loss of each of your muscles
    over thirty-seven years

a letter I would have written to you from my pram
    if I could have

a letter in the languages you urged me to learn
    because you didn't speak them yourself

a letter in the silk stitches your mother taught you -
    satin, stem, chain and a cluster of knots

a letter that will burst open like a peony on your lap

a letter bearing the scent of wind-threshed laundry
    and sweet peas

a letter ablaze with stars I have tweezered
 out of the North sky

a letter comprising one sentence so long it would unravel
    into a coastline

a letter so monumental it'll bewilder the neighbours
    when it's hauled out of the lorry

a stained glass letter of illuminated words I have cut out
    with a knife held in raw fingers

a lullaby letter for your longest, calmest rest

a letter for the last room, to lie unopened in the hollow
    of your pelvis

mother I you you I ever love love never mum mummy
    always ever love no no no no



Anne Ryland has had poems published in a range of magazines, including Acumen, Staple, Smiths Knoll, The Interpreter's House and Northwords. Some of her work appears in Entering the Tapestry, an anthology of new poetry published by Enitharmon. She has an MA in Writing Poetry from Newcastle University, and is now working towards her first collection.

For an update on Anne's writing, and another poem, see the Poem of the Month for June 2013.

Poem of the Month full list

Follow the link for a list of other Poems of the Month.


For My Mother © 2004 Anne Ryland: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.