‘The sea-wife’ by Mary Ford Neal

The second poem I want to share today is The sea-wife by Mary Ford Neal, featured in her debut collection Dawning published by Indigo Dreams Publishing. You can buy Mary’s collection here.

Mary Ford Neal is a writer and academic from the West of Scotland, where she still lives and works, teaching and researching Law and Medical Ethics. (Indigo Dreams Publishing). Mary also has a new collection coming out in July this year, Relativism with Taproot Press.

Dawning is one of those books of poetry that you pick up and can’t put down. You share the loss, understand the forgiveness and lament the love; gone but not forgotten. I hope you enjoy this poem as much as I do each time I read it:

The sea-wife

I tried to marry a wave.

He came so softly, twice a day, bringing me gifts,
seaglass and songs,
and his devotion to me was a wonder of the world.
And over time, through painstaking erosion,
he gently shaped my heart into a small boat.

I found a ring left lying on the sand,
and knew he meant to marry me.
But next time, he came in as weak as water,
towed by an emaciated moon,
and somehow his devotion was lethargic,
and lacked the power to lift my boat and take it.

I tried to put my arms around him, vainly,
and as he washed away I tasted saltwater;
he must have wept at being made to leave me.
And he whispered, and I caught it on the breeze,
that I should place the ring on my own finger,
and take great care to keep my heart in boat-form.

And he is out there now, swirling and crashing,
his crest festooned with broken bits of boats;
then calming, gently finding foreign beaches
that remind him of the beach where he once found me.
I know how it must pain him not to find me now,

and I sit here,
sea-wife for fifteen years.


Ford Neal, M. (2021) ‘The sea-wife’ from Dawning. Devon: Indigo Dreams Publishing, 38

Indigo Dreams Publishing (n.d.) Mary Ford Neal: Dawning [online]. Available from https://www.indigodreamspublishing.com/mary-ford-neal [10 April 2022]

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