Ashley Roach-Freiman is a librarian and poet with work appearing in Bone Bouquet, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Smartish Pace, The Literary Review, and Superstition Review. She co-coordinates and hosts the Impossible Language reading series in Memphis, TN. More about her can be found at ashleyroachfreiman.com.
If there is a place for bodies to be safe
In the woods, in the clearing, is there
a place for bodies to be safe? In the garden
pulling weeds, wild strawberries, never an end
to the vines, the wading in pokeweed,
and one day meeting forest. In shade, mimosa, pink soft
and spackled, in the river. Can you leave your body? You cannot.
You are alone. Are you alone? Are you finally safe?
Field blue coneflowers, elusive pastoral, even in the notebooks
you keep, unsafe. In your blue kitchen, in your sunny bed, still, still,
is there a place? Drift to the traffic of minnows and bees.
Street by street, tree trunks of bodies root, unroot.
Bless your budding, you are not safe in yellow sun,
parking lot, single yellow flower. You are or are not alone.
Woman in Bathroom
after the photograph by Gregory Crewdson
Something you’ve been thinking about, unavoidably:
your life, half-lit by a series of still open doors, all the ones
you’ve walked through and thought were closed, forever
open in your night wake when you went walking for water,
tiptoeing, and stepped right into bedroom after bedroom
because your body was young and your mind was open
and your eyes were dripping, and you forgot thirst
for hunger and you never closed any door, just stumbled
forward, toes digging into the brown shag carpet to see how it felt, always
saying yes, because what else and what else, and fingers grasping
at shoulders, and fingers pining at windows, and the green line of morning
just a needle’s edge of distance, and now, stopped by the blank
miracle of sadness, your body recognizable only to you, looking back,
facing the mirror in front and the door behind you, your body
beginning its slow loss of illumination, the face lost to onlookers:
what have you learned by the light of all these doors?
How to be alone. How to be alone. How to be alone.