I’m just an old bat who bunked off school
And far too often played the fool.
Dad worked in a factory, used his hands, not his head,
So I must be thick, so my teacher said.
Well, I’ve learnt a bit since then,
I’m sixty now, no longer ten.
And what have I learnt? That there’s a brain in my head, to be explored,
Not a lump to be ignored,
And when my teacher called me dull and dim,
The only fool in the room was him.
There was a book that as a child I read,
And in it a question and the question said:
What is beyond? Beyond your house, beyond your galaxy,
Beyond your street, beyond your infinity?
As a kid I was told I was too thick to wonder, too dim to ask,
My brain too small to take on such a task.
Well, I’ve taken it on, I’m learning to learn,
With every credit that I earn.
Now I ask all sorts of questions:
Is it fair, and what do I think about it?
Is it right, and what can I do about it?
I know what I don’t know
And I know what I want to know,
And I know how to try to be what I want to be,
And you know what?
For years and years, I never knew I had it there, inside of me.
© Joanna Ryan 2018
This was one of six pieces of creative writing shortlisted for UNISON’s 2018 writing competition.