Poetry – I Will Not Retreat

Dear Elizabeth,

It breaks my heart to write to you today
Knowing how my words may burden you at your time of rest.
Please forgive me. But not to write to you, to not attest,
To not inform you, not to speak…not to make a fuss…
Elizabeth, our museums, our libraries, these sage
And learned institutions, the very testament to us, 
Are in grave peril. For there is no money,
We’re told, and it seems there is no will to value, to rescue, to save.
I know that you would lie awake to think of a plan, 
A subtle, censoring strategy. Send forth
A crafted note, to every woman, a rousing petition,
Appealing to the heartless, shape-shifting politician.
Make no mistake, as I write, the insistent digital rhythm,
Beats against the breaking day and knows no nightly rest.
The rhetoric that sells to us the notion
That computerisation is our saviour, that it deserves our devotion.
I fear your words will soon be scanned, uploaded, digitised, recoded,
To a series of nought and one. The brush of my hand against parchment,
Where your hand rested also, where you paused to write, to think,
The physical page, the tangible evidence gone.
But know this, Elizabeth, that I will not retreat, but with gentle influence
And steady resolution exert all that I am, for all that you were.
And work within the hallowed museum, to herald the object as King,
Reveal its stories, illuminate for all to see the truth it holds within.
But, at least, for now, fragile, I have your words, the paper, foxed and true,
In every way the material link, to the immortal you.
But here is the problem, the nub of this pain,
This letter, my thoughts, unsent, in vain.

A poem as a letter in the epistolary poem form. As part of the Women’s Writing in the Midlands, 1750-1850. Susanna Watts and Elizabeth Heyrick. A Poetry Collection.


Anna Larner – Author of Highland FlingHooper StreetLove’s Portrait and Highland Whirl.

Finalist in the 2019 Foreword INDIES Book of The Year, 2019 Rainbow Awards and 2018 Golden Crown Literary Society Awards.

Featured in women.com, DIVA magazine, Gscene magazine, and Publishers Weekly.


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