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  You could have a big dipper   

In expectation of disappointment by Mary Ford Neal

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

nothing behind

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

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