CW: Deals with miscarriage
I’ve decided not to love you, just in case
you leave like the others.
I believed in their permanence, but
they slipped through me
like ghosts, like sand through
a desperate fishing net, as though I were made
of nothing at all, and they left
but a chill streak of fear;
and a distrust of all who are like them.
And you are just like them.
One left in the night, woke me up
as he left. He left me bloodied.
Another waited until I had made
public declarations – of love, I suppose –
and then left, and I had to tell everyone
that no, I wouldn’t be introducing him,
that he hadn’t stayed, that there would be
no pictures of us together, no events,
no shared life.
And their faces,
their pitying faces. So please,
forgive my unbelief. Forgive me
if I don’t show the murky hospital photos,
if I buy nothing, prepare nothing (except
my body for the blow),
if I don’t name you, and try not to love you
until I know you won’t leave
like the others.
Mary Ford Neal is a writer and academic living and working in the West of Scotland. Her first collection, ‘Dawning’ (Indigo Dreams) was published in August 2021, and her poetry is widely published in magazines and anthologies. She is assistant editor of Nine Pens Press and ‘192’ magazine. Twitter: @maryfordneal