There are flowers in my skull and soil
          underneath my tongue. Many things
dwell inside my bones: Hebrews believed demons
          brought madness—but when young
                                        girls placed dull knives to their
                              flesh, no spirits escaped—No,
                                        nothing can hide in the
                              body: because my body is the moon
grabbing hold of light. I did not know
          my bones needed shaping. No—I never
wanted to hold stars in my hand:
          feel the sharp point
                                        against my palm—prick
                              my finger against the sins of my mother.
                                        And yet—I still fall
                              into the ocean every night: still
blur at the edges at dusk
          when I kneel next to the bed
to pray: with my back pressed against
          the moon. Still trace
                                        the scars on my thighs: because
                              there’s a before I can’t remember.
                                        God is never pushed
                              from my bones: but what happens
when the mind turns against
          the body, says I want to feel more—
when bones can’t borrow
          beauty from old sin and
                                        the knife is resting
                              on the ocean floor—or the night sky, or in
                                        the other room. Sometimes
                                                  I can’t tell the difference between
living things and the
          sound of wind through leaves
but I can hear my own
          breathing under water.

Ashley Mares is the author of two forthcoming chapbooks, A Dark, Breathing Heart (dancing girl press) and The Deer Longs for Streams of Water (Flutter Press). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Whiskey Island, Menacing Hedge, Whale Road Review, Prelude, Hermeneutic Chaos, 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.