Carol Ann Duffy


Walking the parlour, round round round the table,
miles; dead sisters stragglers till ghosts; retired wretch,
runty, pale, plain C. Brontë; mouth skewed, tooth-rot.
You see you have prayed to stone; unheard, thwarted.

But would yank your heart through your frock,
fling it as a hawk over the moors, flaysome*. 
So the tiny handwriting of your mind as you pace.
So not female not male like the wind’s voice.

The vice of this place clamps you; daughter; father
who will not see thee wed; traipsing your cold circles
between needlework, bed, sleep’s double-lock.
Mother and siblings, vile knot under the flagstones, biding.

But the prose seethes, will not let you be, be thus;
bog-burst of pain, fame, love, unluck. True; enough.
So your stiff doll steps in the dollshouse parsonage.
So your writer’s hand the hand of a god rending the roof.

*terrifying, frightful - Scottish English