Mary Ford Neal
It’s a small stretch of sea, but it boils with anger. Still, it will be the colour of my family’s eyes, so however much it rants, it can put no fear in me. And the journey will take no time at all, and I will be the only passenger, and unafraid of being alone, although I am no sailor. And when I step off at the other side the stones will clamour around my feet, singing: Our little wee girl, our fair one, Our lost princess, our own true love, We knew you’d end up here. I’ll reply that it was never in any doubt, for where else could I finally be, but here in this place where the stones are moulded perfectly to my feet, and the clouds sit snugly around my shoulders, and the bullets fit perfectly between my eyes? And I’ll tell them how I haven’t slept in all the time I’ve been away, that I’ve never found anywhere that feels enough like home to dream in, and that I’ve lain and listened while their song’s fingers reached across the sea and stroked my whitening hair. And the stones will answer: But how can that be, wee girl, wee love, How can you not have slept for a hundred years? And do you know what they’ve been doing to us While you were gone? It would break your heart, You’d die of it. I’ll reply that I’m here now, am I not? And that no harm will come to them. And I’ll ask them to make it so that nothing can ever remove me. And the stones will sing: Thank you, thank you, don’t ever leave again. And I will promise not to, and in one simple movement we will become each other, as it should always have been— after all the exile, how easy it will be in the end, me turning to stone and the stones taking the shape of a song-stricken girl, salt-blasted and ocean-eyed, but home now, and made monument.
Mary Ford Neal is a writer and academic from Glasgow, Scotland. She is the author of two poetry collections: ‘Dawning’ (Indigo Dreams, 2021) and ‘Relativism’ (Taproot Press, 2022). Her work has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, and has been Pushcart nominated. Mary is an assistant editor of Nine Pens Press and 192 Magazine.