There, Inside Of Me, by Joanna Ryan

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.