Drowning Symphonies by Ashley Mares

This is the home we built: the one we placed on the wings of butterflies so tenderly it collapsed into their veins—the red, bloodied hope and blue from their eyes: my dreams the doorway we’d walk through. In this place, there are ravens in the walls: shadows hang from the chandelier. In this place we all speak the same language: count bruises and find pretty things in the sand before the ocean swallows it whole. Offerings of the body: one for sorrow, one for the psalm I let sink into my skin. The one my mother sang when she placed flowers in my hair. One for the peaceful dreams that stopped coming. In this place, I am too much with caged birds—with breathing in the dark. Ask me—what lives inside my bones: what carries the body in dreams. What happens when our bodies tire of counting—tire of building walls that keep collapsing. I can hear prayers slip down cold throats in the walls: ravens carry peace tucked under their wings. I haven’t yet learned how to open my eyes in the dark. How to pluck feathers from the floorboards. Tell me which room of my body you’ve wondered into—which of my bones is under your tongue. What color is your favorite—everything looks red. Ask me—who soaks up the blood once we’re gone: once there are no more pieces of my body to offer.

Ashley Mares is the author of Maddening Creatures (Aldrich Press, forthcoming), The Deer Longs for Streams of Water (Flutter Press) and A Dark, Breathing Heart (dancing girl press). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Stirring, Sugar House Review, Glass Poetry Press, Prelude, and others. Follow her @ash_mares2.