Ashley Mares


Give me, my love, the fragments
of your prayers: the remnants

                            of your bones. Remember
                            that time our bones crashed

into each other: how
our bodies broke but nobody

                            noticed. Tell me how this
                            is your sea: the constant flow

of prayers: if the words soak
long enough in the waters

                            then they dissolve into bones, into
                            the hope from our wet eyes.

Show me, my love, your open
wounds: your veins like the

                            currents. Show me your folded
                            hands: how your fingers

come together like a
ribcage. How folded hands

                            keep your heart in place. Tell
                            me: what it does it mean to be

together, to be


This is how my body began unravelling: I heard
a raven sing into my bones – let’s plan

a murder: a gathering. A longing of unpinned
lungs. And I remembered this: a man’s

hands…a deboning. How a piece of me falls
while my body appears whole. I never

understood this: how a young girl’s prayer
can say somebody love me and the words

raise goose bumps on tree limbs like a cool
breeze. How spirits aid: filling the night air like

constellations. I let them rest in my
ribcage: this is enough to keep my body

breathing. Because my body says please,
says no more. I fled deep into

the forest: into tree limbs – how I clutched them
like they were my mother’s outstretched

arms. I remember feeling the moonlight sink
into my skin: how my lungs opened. How my

bones ached. And I saw that my ribs were fashioned
from my mother’s hope. She always said to honey

my prayers with words like be with me
always. And so I learned what it meant to be

broken yet whole: be marked by a prayer that
says, Lord, love me until my dying day. How

these body aches allow a young girl to feel
spirits inside her lungs: be gathering among

the star-scattered sky and see how pinkened
skin means breathe, means enough.


Ashley Mares has poetry that has appeared or is forthcoming in Menacing Hedge, Whale Road Review, Rogue Agent, Hermeneutic Chaos, Whiskey Island, The Indianola Review, White Stag, and others. She is currently completing her J.D. in Monterey, Ca, where she lives with her husband. Read more of her poetry at and follow her @ash_mares2.