Ashley Wilda

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Author: ashley (page 2 of 19)

the weight of the moon

who knew sitting up was so hard

pushing against the weight of the moon and its oceans on my back

who knew my limbs could feel like

faded broken elephant’s tusks, full of water, unliftable

who knew the barest memory of your thumb on my skin

a velvet flutter of moth’s wings

could scoop out my heart, leave me with nothing but ache

and banish me to my bed until the pain fades

retreating behind its wall, leaving nothingness in its wake

and a whispered longing for your hands in my hair

bleed with me

oh, the irony, that even

loneliness brings people together

the darkness that divides

us from ourselves and the

treasures of our lives

meld

and our hearts’ broken pumping

bleeds into one another.

I listen to your cry, friend, brother

and mine calls out, rises in return

seen, known, kin

wanderer, exiles on this earth, all.

I am less lonely in my loneliness

knowing another is too

and we are lonely together

and it is easier because of it.

I hang on your song’s every word

and when my own lips find the mike

to tremblingly sing my own

something like bravery ignites in my bones

believing in the worth of my own story

knowing you are listening.

of all the things…

the river is liquid purple tonight

water purling over rocks

all play and frothy plumes

full of itself, rejoicing in its own existence

high, so high

and still the kayakers play

surfing the tumble around logs stranded

under a fading sky of blushing orange and gold

clouds of cotton pulled thin

dyed quiet pink and deep lavender.

I am cradled by a seat of cool stone

mosquitoes nibbling at my feet

air chilling, slipping toward

fall’s subtle surrender

heart expanded with wonder

and heavy with longing.

thinking of the could-have-beens

the still-I-wishes

other versions of this moment

where you and I stand at the bank

and watch the dying sun

the river laughing up at its creator

in wild rippling beauty fading toward

the navy robes of night.

of all the things my hands have held

the best by far is you

sings the headphone melody in my ears

backed by the chanting worship of crickets

ringing, ringing, soft and persistent

and the words are true.

a way to want

just a tiny, tiny pill

blue, pale blue

a crease splitting it

down the middle.

I tell myself it’s not a

big deal

as tiny of a deal as this

ghost weight on my palm.

half my face in the mirror

one eye looking back at me

split in two

trying to reconcile

two truths

both as much me

as me can be.

I tell myself a tiny pill won’t

change who I am

change what I believe

change whom I love

I’m just too stubborn.

but in order to

have a life

you’ve got to want

things to fill it

you’ve got to want to want

you’ve got to have the energy

to go after them.

I’ve started wanting to want

I can’t stop now.

swallow.

pale blue nothing

slipping down my throat

like it’s not even there.

and I tell myself

I can always go back

undo this moment

pretend there was never any

blue, pale blue nothing

in my palm

and figure out some other way

to want.

a song that keeps on playing

I hear the note, off-tune, ring muffled through the quiet house. Something in me goes very still.

When I saw my dad’s old guitar in its beat-up, fraying case on the floor of my sister’s bedroom a few days ago, something in me seized up. I have my own guitar now. I had my own guitar back then, but I didn’t have a case for it, so when I went to school, I took his with me.

I didn’t know I could sing then. I barely knew how to play. But something about you, something about that small, unassuming group of friends we drank tea and ate pancakes with, pulled me out of my shell just enough to join in. To fumble through the chords and quietly sing lyrics from chord sheets printed off a free website.

You said you wanted to learn, but you were left-handed. I said I could teach you anyway. I don’t know why–I had never taught anyone anything remotely musical–but I was certain I could. Maybe because I was certain about you. Certain I wanted to spend more time with you. Certain you could do anything you wanted to.

So we took that old chord chart with the labeled fingering positions and that beat-up case and sat on the sidewalk with our feet in the ivy under the street light and stars, and we began. We only ever got done a little at a time, but neither of us minded. I played, and you played, fingers of the wrong hand searching for the strings, both of us laughing a lot. I always thought it was cute when you got frustrated with yourself. You were always doing better than you thought you were. You always forgot a string on the D, and I was always picking up your finger and moving it to where it was supposed to go.

That guitar brought us closer in more ways than I could have guessed. Conversations under stars and ivy confetti wishes turning to quick grassy moments stolen from afternoon classes to dim hours in the quiet of your bedroom to the rug on the floor of mine. We sang songs I loved, songs you loved, and songs that meant something to both of us. Songs that became something more to me than when I first heard them. You took the guitar from my room to practice when I was in class, and we played with others and alone. I liked alone best.

I wrote my first song on that guitar. It was about you. I still wish I had found the courage to play it for you. You were the last person I sang to in a very long time. You’re still the last person I sang to like that.

You are like a song that keeps on playing. Playing, playing. So sweet, and so painful, I could never turn it off.

wild girl.

sometimes I fantasize about being myself but not.

my name would be Lee

the last syllable of my first real name

and no one would know any different.

I’d have a nose ring on the right

and a tattoo of the stars

around my left ankle.

I would be artist and explorer

the kind with a nice laugh and a nice voice

and a guitar slung over her shoulder

the kind who’s welcome everywhere

the kind who disappears up canyons

and into breathing forest green

with a friendly dog at her heels.

I’d come and go with the wind

wherever whim leads

but I’d always come back

and no one would know how my heart carries you

except for maybe the look in my eyes

the disappointed boys I leave behind

or the songs that I sing

in hopes they’ll lead you back to me.

l e a n i n g

during worship I always

lean into the side of the big door-less

entryway into the living room

thick white paint on wood

cool and a little sticky against my skin

I feel like the closer I am to it the safer

I will be don’t ask me from what it doesn’t

matter the point is I’ll feel safer.

the truth is sometimes I’m too tired to

stand unaided on my own two

feet my limbs too heavy my heartbeat

too slow, but as I sing of God’s love and

attention I try to let the words fill me buoy

me up and I lean away

and lean back

balancing palms open

on my own two feet for a few

moments trying to call back the

feeling of being strong and sure.

I am like a child balancing with her

hands on her father’s legs and letting

go for a second just to see that she

can do it on her own and then

retreating back where she can

hide beneath him where it’s

not so scary.

no one ever tells you

when you are born

that in life you will need

to learn how to

crawl

stand

walk

more than

once.

I dream that Prague is in Germany

ordinary people’s nightmares don’t faze me

takes me a while to remember I even had them

blood pooling from my ears

crippled dog in the road at night

the man that keeps materializing behind me

driving the same stretch of road over and over without success.

these I accept as macabre, bizarre

dream filaments that don’t bleed into my waking hours

but the merest glimpse of you and I’m unseated.

we lock eyes across a gray cobbled square in Prague

I didn’t come here because you were here, I swear

but then I doubt myself, I can’t remember what’s true when you’re

looking at me like that.

you march over, your hair is too long

I’ve never seen you angry before

and it scares me.

your finger in my face

‘what are you doing here’

‘stay away from me’

pierce and freeze.

I can’t protect myself from words, not when

they’re spoken by you.

my armor turns to paper at the

sword swung by love

I turn and run but when I awake

I can’t run from this sickly fear curling in my chest

that maybe you’d say these words to me

for real.

wings

it has been the crappiest week of all

crappy weeks and I

am having trouble feeling

anything but heavy.

the coldness of a doctor’s scrutiny

the sharp words of a friend I relied on

the slipping away of someone changing too fast

the unexpected reprimand of a manager

and to top it all off

nothing can be worse than telling your mother

some days you’ve prayed to die

while the cool rain pours down

hurricane leftovers

drowning the worms on the driveway.

but I’m here in my usual spot

leaning against a doorframe

bare feet on warped wood floor

singing to the King with a house full

of other broken, messy people

who call him Dad.

I open my palms and sing

I am not afraid, I am not afraid

I will sit on top of my cage and sing

let my voice be heard

all I have to do

all I have to do is sing.

I trust you, God, I say in my mind.

I trust you.

singing and crying. standing and

leaning. leaning and

sitting. silence. eyes

closed. listening.

singing again. praying. pleading.

singing.

I decide to trust that He

loves me.

no matter how dark it is.

because if He does, then that

changes

everything.

somehow.

it does.

and in a moment, He shows me

a life without you.

a life where, if I let Him

He will bring me someone to love

someone who will love me

and I will feel whole.

but He gives me a choice.

love is never wrong.

love is one of the few things we

get to decide.

and I. love. you.

I shake my head.

no, I say. I choose him. I love him.

God nods. okay then, He says to me.

Let’s go.

He’s smiling, reaching out a hand

to me.

and for the first time in a forever long time

I take it.

Okay, I say. Let’s go.

and behind him is a whole, bright, beautiful

happy

future

that He has

for me

regardless of whether you’re in it.

I hope you will be.

I will always miss you.

but I’ve taken the hand of a God

who loves me

and my life is worth living

just because it’s mine

and He gave it to me.

and in that moment–I feel

something leave me.

I am

l i g h t e r

I can lift my feet, and I do so

over and over again

because something that was gluing me

to the ground isn’t there anymore.

in my minds eye I feel

wings begin to sprout from my shoulderblades

and grow, and grow

until they are FULL, big, feathered, strong

beautiful wings.

and in my minds eye I move them

and they feel good

and I am smiling.

I. have. wings.

and I still have love too.

I didn’t have to leave you behind.

I never did.

the choice was never mine

but yours

and still is.

I feel like someone has just open

the door of my cage my dark

prison cell and I have finally chosen

to walk out.

I have this insane thought of what now

it doesn’t feel real

depression has been my full-time occupation

and now I’ve got to find another job.

I realize, like any survivor

some days I will feel like I am back in that cage

even though I am not.

freedom takes time to sink in

even with wings.

and if someday the dark takes me captive again

I’ve got a Love-Warrior-King to bust me out.

and in the very, very end, I can never stay there.

it’s not all unicorns pooping butterflies

not all rainbows and pots of gold

I’m still walking through a rainstorm wishing

you were here

and love will long forever

it’s in its nature, I suppose

but hey, with wings there’s still a lot

that a girl can do

isn’t there!

light is coming

I sat in the chair in the middle of the room

excited and afraid as others

laid hands on me

nearly two months ago in my memory

but it feels like yesterday.

the words spoken through them

lifted me up and made every

molecule in my body take up

war with its neighbor.

I feel like there are two people inside you

fighting to take over, said one.

you might be one, or the other

or neither, or both

but they are fighting.

another said, I feel like there is something

you must lay down, let go, and letting go of it

will be excruciating

but there is strength on the other side.

they were right.

 

I drove home in the dark

my insides battling it out

my mind trying to push away the need

to understand what my heart had known

instantly

to be true.

I have to finish the battle.

I have to lay it down.

but what?

I’d asked God, and it isn’t

loving you–

thank goodness, I never wanted it to be.

but still, it remained, something

and that something was killing me.

 

it ran me over like a freight train careening

off track

I had to let go of the belief that I cannot

have a future if you’re not in it.

that I would never be

happy again.

that my life would have no

worth.

I could hold on to loving you

I would always miss you

always have a piece missing

but I had to stop choking myself

to death.

 

I screamed.

I drove down the highway

and screamed.

because it was excrutiating

thinking about living without you

thinking about being happy without you

thinking about loving you my whole life

and maybe still finding value in that life.

but I screamed out the war

I screamed out the untruth

and when all the noise was gone

through tears I could see

love remained

and it wasn’t as heavy as before.

 

laughter and night wind

a rush of emotions blowing through me

remembering what hope feels like

tumbling out into the grass

lying on my back

mind reeling, reeling

seeing the stars again

feeling incomprehensible and yet

like some things could still

make sense

 

like being locked in a cold, dark room

alone, days

on end

forgetting there’s anything

outside of it

and someone whispers–

hold on

light is coming.

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