Issue 10,  Poetry

She can’t help herself by Mary Ford Neal

She’s smiling
     the woman whose husband
     will shortly have her murdered
          whose thimble, whose sheets
     whose husband’s flesh
          will soon be warmed
          by a more obliging body
     with a lot more give
and quite a bit less to say.

She’s smiling
     and at my leisure I can appraise 
     every detail of her face, but
          the only gaze here is hers
     and when I meet her eyes, I know
          that I am on her turf
          and she keeps her eyes on me
     and she keeps her real name
on a rope around her neck.

I feel her steel.

They say her wit was like a blade
     perhaps she smiled too much
     and lacked a blind eye
          perhaps she should have saved her tongue
     for flattery and prayers
          but this is what survives of her
          this, her last laugh

     And as I finally turn my back, she says  

          You must understand –            
          A sharp girl can play sweet, but not for long.

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Mary Ford Neal (she/her) is a writer and academic based near Glasgow, Scotland. She has poetry recently published and forthcoming in Ink Sweat and Tears, Dust Poetry Magazine, perhappened and Capsule Stories, and her debut collection will be published in 2021. She tweets about poetry and other things @maryfordneal.

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