‘Isabella’s Secret’ by Jane Fuller

Isabella’s Secret

Sitting wasn’t Granny’s thing.
Scouring cream and stout carbolic,
close allies in her phoney war against
the foes of germs and gossip.
Shuttling back and forth to
sweep and sponge and neatly press,
damping down that faint ferment of
justified industrial unrest.
Genuflecting at the step,
no spit or spot or speck remained.
I sat, unwinding jumper wool, not
wanting her to feel betrayed.

She gifted me her special book,
no other benefactions to bestow,
sheathed in the crinkly crepe paper
covered box she’d multi-coloured
scrap paper embossed.
Her guilty pleasure, secreted away,
each well-thumbed page a rare and
precious gift.

Her touch was always coarse and cold
but real regard lives on in this.


“‘Isabella’s Secret’ is a poem that tells the story of a working-class matriarch. Tough, poor, proud and hardworking, my Granny dismissed my love of books and writing as an indulgence. She had ‘no time to sit.’ However, her journal tells a different story, and forms an unshakeable bond across generations and experience. It’s my most precious possession.  It also highlights a tension that still exists in the female experience about prioritising other activities over domestic roles.”


Jane lives in the South Rhins of Galloway, Scotland, on a cliff overlooking the sea. She has had poetry and prose published by Scottish Book Trust, Northwords Now and The Linnet’s Wings. Her poems have featured online in Writers Against Prejudice, Writing in a Woman’s Voice and Football Poets and have also been included in All Washed Up an exhibition by Glasgow artist, Moira Buchanan.

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