Ashley Wilda


Page 2 of 21

keep them closed

we meditate, us four

feet in a square

lying on our backs in the cold

cold grass as the crickets

sing and a single star

appears in the fading sky.

she says to imagine walking

into a warm bright house full

of family

and I don’t imagine my own.

you hug me

and we are surrounded by

the people I knew as friends

way back when

and I am happy.

you and I we lie

in the dark

and I am not alone

listening to your nearness

and I never, never want

to open my eyes

to cold, cold fall dusk

and a dying sky.

castle in the sky

I’d give anything

to fall asleep next to you again

even if we aren’t speaking

even if we aren’t touching

just to look at your shape in the dark

and listen to your breathing

and let the nearness of you

surround me like a cloud

hey, you.

You’re sitting with your back to me, like you always are. I wish I could tap on your shoulder and say, hey, nothing’s changed.

I realize that this is probably the first time you’ve heard me laugh in over a year. I know you’re probably feeling glad for me and also have a little sinking feeling. Like maybe you miss me. I don’t know.

Tonight is a good night, just a few climbers goofing off, trying to forget the fact we don’t want to go home. I don’t want to think about the missing in my core, or all the thoughts and fears that will descend on me as soon as I’m alone, not distracted. But I guess it’s good that I can laugh sometimes, and that people don’t always look at me like I have two heads when I do. I’m still not happy. But I’m learning it’s okay to be grateful for the moments that make life brighter, even as I wish you were in every single one of them.

But this is what I want to tell you.

I miss you. I want you to have the best life you can have… but I wish you were in mine.

Whether I’m laughing or crying, near or far away, know that I never forget you,

that you’re everything to me,

and every day, I wish I could go home to you

because that is what you are

to me.

the game of now

today was the first day

I played frisbee

since two springs ago

it counted even though

I barely touched it with

one finger.

I’ve been afraid

to go back

I’ve been afraid

to move forward

memory and guilt

all tangled together

looking suspiciously like desire.

but today I learned

no silly dance

of feet on wet grass

could replace the warmth of our collision

the laughter of wrestling

for a spinning plastic disc

really just an excuse

to tackle you.

and no blue sky of today

no moment

could negate the forever

of those golden yesterdays

or the hope floating

in yet unformed tomorrows.

so when I get the chance to play

with a silly plastic disc

I will

and I won’t forget.

out the window

I watch her, just a little girl

sticking her hands out the window of the moving car

experiencing the world on her own terms

for the first time

figuring out that maybe, just maybe

the rules don’t apply

I remember when I too was just

a little girl

sticking myself out proverbial windows

experiencing the forbidden joys

of dirt on my skin

nights under the stars with strangers

the thrill of holding my body over the edge



the reckless joy of being

my own safety net

the freedom of realizing

that maybe They, with all their rules

though well-meaning

may not be right

that maybe the song my heart sang

wild, so wild, beautiful and true


might be the one

I could listen to

and not be wrong

only Different

and so I smile at her unexpected joy

this little girl, my sister

her hand riding the wind like

a small, young songbird in the breeze

trying flight for the first time

I smile and say–

stick your head out the window,

and see how that feels

she grins

and there she goes.


rain pounding on my window

asking me to let it in

the rain is already inside though

it’s been raining where I’ve been.

smooth wings in my hand, dear

smooth brown wings

I know they’re only wooden, dear

but I imagine where they’ve been

small shavings forming

small ripples under

your fingers that have

touched mine.

just wings, just wood, just

memories, just hope

that steady me when from nightmare I wake

that solidify life that otherwise slips away

that remind me you were there and you

could be again.

I pray you’re safe from the rain, dear

I pray you’re safe from the wind

but I’m still knocking at your heart, dear

oh won’t you let me in.


the shame I put on myself

is often the hardest to shake

I am too much

too little

wrong where I should be right

one way when I should be another




just not enough

in your absence

the affirmation of your arms

slipped away

and I don’t know how to love myself

accept myself

champion myself

nothing anyone ever does

will be enough

if I don’t see myself through the gaze

of a passionate God

then how will I see myself

as good enough for you

how will I ever laugh






love you in your absence

look myself in the eyes

and say, I am worth it

I am enough

I am just right

just the way I was made

no need to feel ashamed

of a brokenhearted smile

little gray cat

little gray cat

comes, wraps her lithe

soft body around my back

arches her back, steps through

the arches of my legs

doesn’t mind I’m crying.

I pet her and she pushes against

me like crazy

starved for affection

people never knew she needed.

her purr is gone

she’s skittish of the world

startling at the truck rolling by

running away

stalking back

but feels safe with me

rolling over on her back

claws clinging to my jeans.

it’s okay, I tell her

I lost my purr too

I’m sure it will come back.

she bites me once

I jerk back hard, but

return my hand

I know what it’s like to not

want to be touched even as

you’re starving for it

finding it hard to believe

you’re safe

even when you are,

thumb soothing

the velvet fur

above her nose.

she settles down and licks herself

at my feet

and we sit and watch

the leaves curling bright

on the sidewalk together

the cat and me.

then, as I say I have to go

she jumps up on my lap

curls beneath my arm

a soft meow

as if to say


she sits and flicks her tail

white socks and a white tie

green eyes

watching me go.

Abba song

so much pain bound up in this body

I need to release it

set this spirit free

surround me with who You are

tell me who I am, remind me

I need to know

tell me how precious I am to You.

my shoulders curve around an empty cup

a caving chest

fill me.


this is for you, sitting in the dark

sing out the tension

scream it out

let your bones bend until they feel

they might break

scream it out

call on the name of your God

scream his name

claim his help

scream, let it rip through your center until you


let the darkness disintegrate in the air

let him in

let him protect you

let him be your warrior, fight for you

so you don’t have to

it’s already won

he’s already gone out

it’s already done.


he goes where you go

he’s bringing a new thing

you will see his goodness in the land of the living.

he calls your name

he calls your name

all the love in the world in your name

he’ll never drop you when you’re leaning

when you’re wondering if he’s there.


hush, quiet, listen here–

he loves you he loves you he

loves you.


the lights go off

leaving only shifting purple glow

and I could be anyone

swaying in the half-dark

floor vibrating through bare feet

drumbeat ricocheting in my stomach

the thump of bass in my chest

riffs plowing through my center

music taking over the whole room until

the very air is thrumming sound

no difference between oxygen and melody.

something inside me trying to wake up

run crazy, ride life like a

wild, wild mustang to unknown destination.

the space next to me making me wish I could

entwine my fingers with yours

bury my head in your neck as you

wrap your arms around me warm

and I hold tight.

lost and found.

scream and melody.

lost and found.

I am and I resound.

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