Margaret Royall

Margaret‘s 1st poetry collection ‘Fording The Stream’ appeared Sept 2017 under the pen name Jessica De Guyat.

She was shortlisted for the Bangor Literary Festival and Crowvus poetry prizes in 2018 and her poems have appeared online, in journals and anthologies, most recently Hedgehog Poetry Press, The Blue Nib, Impspired and forthcoming in Sarasvati.

May 2020 saw the publication of her memoir of childhood ‘The Road to Cleethorpes Pier,’ a Haibun fusion of prose and poetry.

In July 2020 she won Hedgehog Press’ Full Fat collection competition and ‘Where Flora Sings,’ was published November 2020. Earth Magicke was published by impspired in 2021.

Margaret leads a women’s poetry group in Nottinghamshire and performs regularly at open mic events in person and online.


Inspired by the poetry of Ruth Stone

All my life I’ve been brambling; 
plopping plump promises into my mouth,
twirling the bitter sweetness around my tongue, 
eyes screwed up when the sourness kicked in.
As teenagers we would bike round ‘Ginger’s,’ 
its hedgerows boasting a bumper crop, 
bushier than Grandpa’s eyebrows. 
Once home I’d bake us bramble pies for tea.
I recall one Sunday evening my son’s bombshell -
cookery next day    blackberry pie    did we have any?
A quick foray down Carlton Lane thankfully yielded 
a ‘plentiful sufficiency,’as my dad used to say.
But those barbs! I have suffered their curse
more often than I care to recall. Thorns ripping flesh. 
My first love tricked me with vain promises -
‘Blackberry pie tomorrow    soon       next week...
More fool me, blanking out the obvious.
My first marriage hurled me into razor-sharp thicketts
so dense, that emerging proved almost impossible. 
Inch by inch I crawled out backwards before I drowned…
But it takes way more than that to keep a Lincolnshire lass
from brambling!


I’m standing on the sideline
watching grief unfolding
flapping on the breeze like
Nanna’s patched bedsheets, 
pastel pink flamingoes
stiff-winged       feet mired in mud.

I note my hesitance     my confusion,
wondering  if silence is better 
than intimate betrayal?

But silence, like Chinese whispers, 
might destroy what remains of us; 

never again to stroll down memory lane           
giddy with passion      arms entwined
through Notting Hill;
twenty-somethings on Saturday afternoons,            
innocent lovers in bohemia
souls soaring    singing an uncaged birdsong

My gut feeling says anonymity, yes
                       way to go, my friend – 

that youthful liaison 

Pink Bedsocks

I remembered my primary school failure 
at knitting socks on four needles.

That same feeling hit me again, 
as the nurse put pink socks on his feet,
and I thought it wasn’t right for a dying man to wear pink socks.

His skin was dappling, pale red rings 
like scales on a giant fish creeping up his body.

The radio was playing Rachmaninoff but I was scared….
Nobody had told me what to expect, 

how it goes when death finally comes,
and I was too afraid to ask, afraid of looking silly.

I was supposed to know the signs, wasn’t I? 
How come no one had addressed the elephant in the room? 

This was a hospice. These kind people were 
in the business of dying, were’t they? 

But this wasn’t any random death     it was my husband’s.

Yet the experience brought future benefits.
Next time I was prepared, I knew the signs.

As I stood by my brother-in-law’s hospital bed 
I saw that same dappling starting to creep up his skin,

felt the ice-cold feet and knew it was coming.
No panic this time, just calm acceptance.

But there were no bedsocks for his freezing feet.

I wished I had been better at knitting, 
then I could have made bedsocks for the dying
in memory of my those I have lost.

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