Mother, the sun is trying to shine on me
again, as you said it would.
I’ve kept the windows shuttered as you told me to, but
hot fingers always find ways through.
The sun is saying it might turn me golden if I step outside.
But ‘might’ was never good enough for you
and won’t be good enough for me
and I’m remembering everything you’ve said
about how ballerina skin like mine
is slipper-soft, and cannot be exposed.
I think the sun might be a liar, Mother.
You tell me that I mustn’t melt –
that I’m a fool to think I could be golden.
I move the slats a little,
see some slow, sun-softened people
and I cannot help but notice that not one of them is burnt.
What should I do? Tell me again,
and quickly, Mother. My hand is on the handle
and it’s nearly noon, when shade is hard to find.
Mary Ford Neal is a writer and academic from the West of Scotland. Her current poetry deals with philosophical and psychological themes, focusing on (dis)connection, belonging, certainty and doubt. Her poems have been published in various print and online journals, and she was Pushcart nominated in 2020. Mary has authored two poetry collections: ‘Dawning’ (Indigo Dreams, 2021) and ‘Relativism’ (Taproot Press, forthcoming 2022). She is an assistant editor of Nine Pens Press and 192 Magazine.