“Phantoms” – Poetry by Ashley Mares

Some Roses and Their Phantoms – Dorothea Tanning, 1952

“Phantoms” is one of two exquisitely haunting poems by Ashley Mares in our Fall 2017 issue.

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“Once or twice I have felt that odd whir of wings in the head, which comes when I am ill so often… I believe these illnesses are in my case-how shall I express it?-partly mystical. Something happens in my mind. It refuses to go on registering impressions. It shuts itself up. It becomes a chrysalis. I lie quite torpid, often with acute physical pain. Then suddenly something springs…ideas rush in me; often though this is before I can control my mind or pen.”

                                                                                -Virginia Woolf



              glass and mixed up    bottles.                        The torn

fabric and        bunched up lace.        Have you ever

              known what it was     to be opened   on the

bedroom floor?            It’s the same   every night:

              the voices                    from behind the walls.

The ghosts rising        from the floorboards—this room

              with all its windows.   How much of me

do you have to take    before you give me

              something I can feel?

Everything in me        is a flame:        burning

              softening: cling to me  forever.

Because there’s no such thing                       as space. After

              the flood, the women sprawled out

against the ground,    remembering               what it was

              to feel              dirt between their fingers.

How do I          return home?              Sweet thing,

              cling to me      forever: feel how soft   my skin is.

There is nothing here             that can’t be

              burned,           broken,            opened

by hands         and exposed:   everything in me

              is held,                        tied together    with rope, spun

twine and        broken            wine bottles.

              I am in the mood        to burst

at the seams. The slashed thighs     the blood

              all over the walls         the moaning:

Take me with you—through the         rose-filled arches.

              Tell me—what does it take     for me to give myself

fully to you?    There are worse things:

              like a woman   exposing          her neck—

the flesh pulsing:        perpetually,                 madly.

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ASHLEY MARES is the author of Maddening Creatures (Aldrich Press, forthcoming), The Deer Longs for Streams of Water (Flutter Press) and A Dark, Breathing Heart (dancing girl press). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Stirring, Whiskey Island, Sugar House Review, Glass Poetry PressPreludePANK, and others. She is currently completing her J.D. in Monterey, Ca, where she lives with her husband. Read more of her poetry at ashleymarespoetry.wordpress.com and follow her @ash_mares2.

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