Ashley Wilda


Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 3)

take a walk

sitting at home lends itself to introspection. however, this is something I have an abundance of. and when I wake up especially sad, I work myself deeper and deeper into it just by sitting still.

so lately, I’ll just up and decide to take a walk.

get out of my house. get out of my bed. get out of my head.

sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. but it’s never worse than doing nothing.

so today I hop in the car again and drive to the river, a place I’ve always been drawn to when my heart is hurting or frenzied. summer or winter, spring or fall, the river is… well, the river. it has a special magic to it. and so does the forest, the ivy and the trees and the woody vines. and hopefully sunshine, if I’m lucky.

it’s especially cold today. my toes are numb in my boots, hands huddled in down jacket pockets. but the more I move, the more I warm up. the river rushes by as always, blue, constant, unmovable, dynamic, beautiful. I push my headphones in, turning the shuffle on random.

music. gosh, am I thankful for music. when I listen, to almost anything, it feels like it takes over for me, for my brain, my body. it becomes my heart, the thing pumping blood and keeping me alive, and I don’t have to think so hard about existing. I can lose myself in it, or let it feel for me, breathe for me.

and it keeps my feet moving. the more I walk, the less numb I am, in all ways. I wish I could just walk forever. I need this constant, purposeless motion, movement for the sake of movement. I’ve wanted to achieve this through climbing, pulling off lap after lap… but you can only live on an autobelay for so long before your will to keep going just gives up and quits, along with your skin and your wild heartbeat and your limbs. there’s a limit, which frustrates me. I wish my body was stronger. I wish there could be this endless wall, easy and fluid, where I could just climb and climb forever. become movement. feel like I’m doing something other than walking in circles, or just wandering wherever I feel like it before turning around whenever I get tired.

but still… walking is good. running would be better, but my lungs hate me too much for that (thanks a lot, asthma. jeez.). but there is something about walking, about my legs propelling me through the world without much thought. there’s a rhythm to it, a mindlessness, but because I’m actually going somewhere, it doesn’t feel utterly pointless. and it’s physical. it forces me to look outside myself, and not drown in all the things going on inside, all the things I can’t fix, all the things I can’t control, all the worries I have about what I did and didn’t do or what will or won’t happen.

I suck at waiting. especially when I don’t know exactly what I’m waiting for. I just know that I hope something is coming, anything other than silence, and I can’t help but wait for it. but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to do something. my brain and heart tell me I have to, this is too important not to, but there’s nothing more for me to do. and so I walk.

and today, it gets better. the air is freezing, but the sun lights up the path in golden, shining through ivy leaves. I begin to notice things about the world. things other than me and what’s inside. patchy snow on dirt and brush. slivers of ice in a puddle. vines as thick as my bicep twisting, hanging in a mass beside a tree. I remember climbing those vines. I remember sitting in hammocks and throwing gummies at friends. I remember playing the push game on a rock in the river, always losing but never minding. I remember polar plunging in February with a bunch of friends as crazy as I was. I felt so alive, pumped full of fizzy joy, electric. I miss being crazy. I miss feeling like I am home.

rocks and whushing water. dogs excited to see me. a thick pipe across a dry creek – I balance across. wooden bridges. paths branching off paths. crunch of gravel. quiet steps on dirt. smooth grey bark with white splotches – birch? ivy. lots and lots of it. a hollowed stump. a whole haven that exists with or without me. alone or with others. I snag a knitted hat with two braided tassels hanging from a tree peg. it was there yesterday too, so I don’t feel bad about taking it. I pick off the crunchy leaves… it’s warm and soft. my heart feels quieter. I take out the earphones, pray as I walk. like I’m talking to a friend, someone who cares about me. who understands me. I feel a closeness I haven’t felt in a while. I feel like I can trust Him, no matter what happens. He knows what my heart wants, and can do everything I hope and more, if that’s best. and He’s faithful. all the time. that’s all that matters.

I think about hope. about what I could compare it to. maybe it’s a sword, because it is so double-edged. sharp. maybe it is sunshine, or the comforting warmth that comes when I cup my hands around a mug of tea. something vital and beautiful and powerful. or maybe it is the cold that comes with a winter day, something you can’t avoid or let go of even as it hurts to hold on to. maybe it is both, the warm cup of tea and the cold gray day. maybe it’s a burr in the woods… you don’t notice you’ve picked it up, until it’s there sticking to your clothes. you can’t seem to get rid of it,  but its sharp prick on your skin reminds you of who you are and who you love. maybe hope is the smile of the person dearest to you. maybe it is memory. maybe it is dreams. maybe it’s your breath or my heartbeat.

I think it’s all of these things.

I think everything is more complicated than we think. and more simple.

I think that love makes all of these things worth it. even the things that feel impossible.

I think a lot of things.

but thinking them here, breathing fresh, cold air, as my feet move me through the forest and as music pumps blood through my body for me, is much better than doing it almost anywhere else.

the moon says to me

longing for you

tries to split my body open

parting down the middle like a string bean

struggling out of my skin

like an animal scrabbling with blunted claws

what is it, what is it

my heart heaves, it cries

tell me what it is

this terrible thing burning me away from the inside

love, comes the answer from far away

white,  bright, full

looking down from high window

hush, my darling, hush

it is love

and there is nothing you can do

but endure

and my tears prick me

like a dagger to the chest

some nights, always.

some nights, sadness dribbles down on me like rain on a roof.

some nights, it is a hot, wet blanket, heavy and suffocating.

some nights, it is nothingness. but as real as the air I breathe.

but always… there is missing you.

always, I wish I could lie next to you. look at the stars. try to match your breathing.

always, I wish I could hear you. talk about anything. everything. I’ll just sit and listen.

always, I wish I could reach out and touch you again. feel like we’re going to be okay.

I would be happy if I could have you some nights, for always.

and so on these nights, I am somehow, always, missing you.

I need you.

Do you know,

(You must know)

And does it matter?

If you don’t need me,

Then it doesn’t.

things to remember

when you can’t remember who you are

remember that you once were sure

and liked what you saw

and what others saw in you.

when every day is just different shades of sad

remember that you once were happier

than you ever thought possible.

when you feel forgotten and unimportant

remember that you once

were fully known and fully loved

by people that were family.

when living doesn’t even feel like existing

remember you once had moments

when every breath lit joy in your bones.

when you wonder if someone still loves you

hold on to the fact

that once upon a time

the word “us” was a reality you could hold.

when you doubt God’s care

remember that once, a Man died for you

and won’t give you up so easily.

when your broken heart is too much to carry

remember that somehow once formed

every prayer and every tear

is treasured, no matter how dark

your world may appear.

these things you must at once

and always


I am

the invisible girl

waiting to be seen

wanting to reach out

but knowing that’s not wanted

aching to act

but knowing it’s not her place

wondering why

she doesn’t matter

and wishing

after a certain point

it would stop hurting

that you don’t see me

but it doesn’t.

I want…

I’m reading and reading and this book is so good it fills me up and the new words, my own words, burble up inside of me and just want to be let out but I don’t know how to say what’s inside and I don’t know what it all means and I don’t have anyone to share it with.

And so I’m here, rambling again. Hoping someone will read it who understands.

I want to write about what it’s like to feel grief and love swirl inside you like they’re twisting into a black hole, a yin and yang, both forming me and devouring me all at the same time. I am emptiness and fullness, I am nothing and everything. Broken and whole. The potential for light and the crushing weight of dark swirling through me until I feel like I’m going to burst with the tension of it all.

I want to write about how, most of the time, it’s not like that. Most of the time it is silence and nothing. Most of the time it’s like padding down the stairs and hunching over a stool in the kitchen because your mother made you and trying to make cookies but the dough’s too thick and your limbs feel tired, oh so tired, because you’re oh just so sad, and the cookies go in the oven and you just want to lay your head down on your arms on the counter but you feel like if you do so you’ll be too tired to get back up… but I do it anyway and my arms and hair curtain me from the world and I’m crying. And my mother is there and I am not alone but feel completely alone.

I want to write about how the air outside is thick and warm and blowing. The best kind of wind, we agreed once upon a time. The wind before a thunderstorm. And I just want it to rain so I can sit in it and get soaked, just so that I can feel something again, just so I can pull myself away from my blanket tassels and book worlds and grey mornings spent hiding from the world and feel cold raindrops on my skin and be here, because I am never here anymore.

I want to write about the callouses on my fingers, how I like to push myself and push myself, climb higher and harder and longer, because sometimes it makes me happy, and even when it doesn’t make me happy at least it makes me present, and when it doesn’t make me happy and doesn’t make me present at least it gives me the gift of seeing you again. And I can’t say how much that hurts and how much I need it.

I want to write about texts from friends and staring at the screen and not wanting to respond and not knowing how to say oh I’m fine, but not actually, just really really sad and so end up saying I’m chugging along or just end up saying nothing at all. Just wanting to talk to you instead and knowing that I can’t and why?  Feeling like it’s not fair and it’s not okay and I don’t know how to fix it and just wishing on some horrible fundamental level that everyone would just shut up and stop telling me ‘everything’s going to be okay’ because how do you know? how can you look at my pain, no matter how ridiculous or inexplicable, and tell me that everything’s going to be okay? what does ‘okay’ mean? deep down I know they’re right, but it doesn’t mean I have to understand it. It doesn’t mean it feels right, in the moment.

I want to write about how beauty hurts even as I want to delight in it. I want to write about how when my brain wants to remember, I say ‘Stop, stay here.’ And even when I do stay here, stay present, my heart isn’t here at all. I want to write about how good memories hurt, because I’m not happy, and I’ve lost what made me happy, and how bad memories hurt, because they remind me of all the sad heavy things I carry around with me every day. And so I don’t remember, but feel like a cracked open walnut shell, dry and crunchy and brown, because without my memories, my feelings, who am I? But sometimes I can’t help but remember, and somehow that makes me feel better and worse at the same time, not empty but very far from whole.

I want to write about drawing when I don’t know how to write what I feel. About twisted trees like Baobabs in The Little Prince, taking over a black hole planet. About a girl on a black pebble beach, knees drawn up to her chest, looking out over a gray sky and a sun coming up over the ocean, not knowing whether it is a sunrise or a sunset. About a girl and a boy, sitting up on a tree house platform, leaning on each other, heads resting on shoulders, looking up at the stars and the moon, while a dreamcatcher spins from a branch below. About two vines, twisting up my forearm, entwined around each other like a double helix, one green and leafing, the other dried up with broken stalks, its glory fallen away. Yet still, entwined.

I want to write about how, when I feel like it should be shriveling up and dying away, my love for you has only gotten deeper, if stranger and heavier. I want to write about how hurt doesn’t push me away from you, but makes me want to draw closer. I want to write about how I shouldn’t believe in second chances anymore, but I pray for one anyway. I want to write about how losing the one thing I wanted to hold onto forever made me feel like I lost my whole universe. I want to write about why I keep going every day, why my heart can’t seem to give up on you, but I can’t, because I don’t know if I really know why myself. I only know that it’s true, and it’s not something I can choose. I wouldn’t want to make a different choice anyway.

I want to write about all these things, and more. But I don’t know how. So I try poetry, and I try drawing, and I carve things and climb things, and tell myself stories when I can’t fall asleep, of a brown wooden bird coming to life and flying me to a land where people are allowed to love each other. I imagine saying to you all the things I wish I could say to you right now. But I guess, in a way, I did write about them, just now. If only it could ever be enough. If only words could make everything sad untrue, and every love real again, something I can hold and never let go.


a titanium element

as illusive as mercury

silver bonding and wending

breaking and twisting

beautiful and painful

it has built me up

until I feel all light

and shattered my bones

until I feel drowned

in liquid dark

like there is no air

left in the world

and I am its only inhabitant.

ever morphing

ever changing

awful and wonder

and yet still, iridescent

ever growing

even with the tides

and somehow,



You don’t have any idea

what you do to me.

When you’re standing there

just around the corner

it’s kind of hard to breathe

or other times

I’m shaky, and there’s elephants

dancing around in my chest.

Or you’re moving

not paying any attention to the ground

and I can finally just watch you

and try not to remember

all the things I want to remember.

If you do talk to me

for a second

I’m happy and sad all at once.

You kind of do that.

I can’t ever be truly angry

with you for long

and when I am it’s just

because I’m hurting.

Something always sparks

in my mind, a memory

a word or a gesture

something we shared

something that made me feel

whole, part of something special

and good

and warm

and that thing feels truer than my pain

and I’m not mad anymore.

Just sad.

Hope that can’t seem to

give up and die

reminds me of how

I just want you

just you…

just because

you’re you.

ever ridiculous

i miss you.

i think that’s the simplest way

to explain what in the world

is going on with me.

i can ask myself questions

until up and down aren’t

what they were

and i can block my memories,

high walls around my mind

keeping out all but

bland, empty present,

or drown in the deep blue heaviness,

but without you

i come up with no

new answers

and no new memories

except two words said in passing,

and flashes of sightings

from across a crowded floor.

when i see you,

even from a distance,

i get all shaky inside

and my heart doesn’t obey me.

yet when you leave i somehow

feel empty,

as if steeling myself at this yawning distance

is better than

not ever sensing this odd connection,

even if i don’t know

if you feel it anymore

and if you do

if you’re willing to do anything about it.

but really, it’s quite simple–

i miss you.

so i move through my life,

noting when it intersects with yours

even if only for a few precious seconds,

and pulling myself through

quiet blanketed moments of missing,

of reading books and sipping yerba mate

curled in the overhang of a dark

quiet gym as the lock in kids

giggle in a corner,

through moments of trying not to focus

on the ache in my chest

trying not to look at the picture

of the two of us on that mountain

and caving by looking at it anyway.

i sleep and i wake and it all feels the same

and you probably

don’t understand.

but for some reason, this is me.

and for some reason, i can’t stop loving you,

and for some reason, i have this ridiculous hope

that you’ll feel the same.

this ridiculous dream

that you’ll fight until you believe.

this ridiculous prayer

that you’ll keep trying till you reach me.

but what were we ever

but wonderfully ridiculous


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