been eating pebbles and

fossilized vertebrae

today i went back to leaves.

been lining my eyes with red clay and

paste mixed from the dried blood

i scraped off that dress i wore

some months ago

and the ocean water

i collected a few years back

in the old brown laudanum bottle

that i've kept from two lifetimes ago

today i went back to kohl.


i crouched on top of the wall then

and watched

for a time i could come down

for a time i could find home

for a time when the fires

finished feeding

and went to bed

beneath the blackened city

for a time i could go to the river

and wash the ashes from my skin

and push the many heads of sorrow


-name them! name all of them. do it.


to rest with all of the other bones

to be worn down in microscopic increments

to be silt

to be without moors

to be taken

and given over

forgotten and changed

to the ocean

i crouched on the wall all day

watching panic and desperation and burning

but pivoted and turned my back to the city

when the smoke obscured sun was gone

i kissed the nightfall coming from the east

embraced my long legs

with my long arms

still and balanced

heels to stone

breasts to thighs

chin to knees

eyes wide to my temples

with black kohl and

focused patience

looking out over the water

to the twilight

watching for my wings

they were flying to me now

born by the body of my kindred.


photo courtesy of Jackie Rhoades

Leslie Ashford  is a writer who maintains a healthy list of other occupations and passions including bodywork, yoga, dance, and health education.  She lives in Chicago