A Dark, Breathing Heart | Ashley Mares
Ashley Mares is the author of Maddening Creatures (Aldrich Press, forthcoming), along with the chapbooks The Deer Longs for Streams of Water (Flutter Press) and Killer (Ghost City Press). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Stirring, Whiskey Island, Sugar House Review, Glass Poetry Press, Prelude, PANK, and others. She is currently completing her J.D. in Monterey, Ca, where she lives with her husband. Read more of her poetry at ashleymarespoetry.wordpress.comand follow her @ash_mares2.
I collect collarbones and fingertips but let
my loose hair fall down the shower drain. I
don’t like making eye contact with the dead.
When I see the remains of a deer on the side
of the road I look away. Some things are
beautiful until the moment they aren’t. Her
blood pooling into her haunches rather than
pumping to her heart. The body knows the
appropriate time to do both of these things. Like
my ears know when to listen to the language of
the owl on a nearby branch. Her white feathers
departing from her body—being swept by the
wind and apologizing for falling before they
even hit the ground—for making her less
whole. Beautiful until you aren’t. When I fall
into the drain I don’t hear apologies. Instead I
hear I was never good enough for you anyway.
The body knows when to form a makeshift
cocoon and when to let your hooves dance
across the dirt. The doe—her hooves aren’t
pressed firmly into the ground—she’s on
her side not touching anything in particular.
The body fears the chill of not knowing the
moment your heart will stop beating. Beautiful
until you aren’t. My body knows when to let
my flesh fall and when to press more firmly
into my bones. Into dirt. Into branches. If I look
the deer in her eyes I’m not sure what I’ll see.