A Daughter Returns

The station is a garden of hanging baskets.
Aberdour, where my mother was born
and tended to for three years.
Where I was steeped, where I’ve never been.
I’m homesick for Aberdour.

A discreet village on the Forth’s north shore,
untroubled by maps, where the café is dotted
with stopped clocks, and an apology
is made for a slice of cake so tall
with cream and lemon curd it might fall over;

where strangers say hello to me
as if they know I’m a daughter, as if I bloomed
at this little school whose pupils
have painted giant daisies on high walls;

where the church is a miniature cathedral
and eyes were once healed by water
from its well, where ‘-dour’ means the burn,
gurgling at intervals, an undercurrent.

Rocky houses with turrets climb
hillside lanes. A labyrinth of steps stagger
skyward, disappearing. Those who are gone

blossom here too: the sea-damp terrace
where they nested in the eaves with their rickle
of belongings, sergeant and escaped maid.

My grandmother in a soft jersey-knit dress
and a string of pearls, leaning over her daughter
who rests on a pillow. Any moment

she’ll unclasp the baby’s hands. Aberdour,
where my mother is still just Helen, and warm.

Anne Ryland


Anne Ryland’s collections are Autumnologist (Arrowhead Press 2006), shortlisted for The Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and The Unmothering Class (Arrowhead Press 2011). Her poems are published in anthologies such as Land of Three Rivers (Bloodaxe 2017), and in journals including Poetry Review, Magma, Long Poem Magazine and Oxford Poetry.


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