The Beautiful Girl is Disturbed
She nods to the one who is watching, cannot see
him, nods so he can see. (She’s broken her foot, she’s
had a small stroke, she is on the verge of her own
abandonment.) He wants the skin from her arms, from
her back. He wants the birds that speak from her mouth.
(He is testing the serious thunder between her legs, her
aureole of sunlight, her perpetual hour. He is translating
her body into the world.) She is in line for the first
lamentations. He says each of your tongues is a vessel
of unkindness, but speak, speak — they are your own
your native. (He makes her trout leap, knows the wet
language; he thinks she is the bad dog, like a bad dog
stay.) She is receding. Or what she sees is receding.
(Bone, the body and its confirmations.) It comes to her
on the petals of her sleep: a sun rises like a winged thing
lifting. That she has no wings. That she too must fly.
Previously published in Pleiades and collected in The Museum of Lost Wings
Renée Ashley is the author of five volumes of poetry: Because I Am the Shore I Want to Be the Sea (Subito Book Prize); Basic Heart (winner of the 2008 X.J.Kennedy Poetry Prize); The Revisionist’s Dream; The Various Reasons of Light; and Salt (Brittingham Prize in Poetry, University of Wisconsin Press), as well as a novel, Someplace Like This, and two chapbooks, The Museum of Lost Wings and The Verbs of Desiring. Ashley teaches poetry in the low-residency MFA Program in Creative Writing and across the genres in the MA in Creative Writing and Literature for Educators. She has received fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts in both poetry and prose and a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A portion of her poem, “First Book of the Moon,” is included in a permanent installation in Penn Station, Manhattan, by the artist Larry Kirkland. She has served as Assistant Poetry Coordinator for the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and, for seven years, as Poetry Editor of The Literary Review. Her new collection, The View from the Body, was published by Black Lawrence Press in March 2016.