Ashley Mares


The Perfect Body


At first,

it’s a doll
with a birthmark
below her eye.

Her body
hollowed out
by the hands of


it’s the bones
buried beneath
the willow tree,

the nameless graves
the prayers


It’s a butterfly
who was never fast

the vibrancy
of veins
like a tight
white skirt.

Don’t rip the wings
from her body, for
it’s a sin—

It’s a sin
she could
never even



Always in Motion


If you stitch

together my dreams you’d see
I’m slowly disappearing.

To keep you safe, I’d lock
you in the lighthouse

above the waters.
Beneath the threads

you’d see how

water turned to wine,
wine turned to blood,

and your blood turned to my blood.

When you placed your feet
on the floor in the morning

they were stained
with a deep

and sunken into the floorboards.
If you take a sip

of my prayers
you’d let me slip

between them without
breaking the fibers.

I would have you pushed up

against the stone with
light shining

on your dripping
fingertips and toes. And with that,

I’ll keep you alive forever.



Skin Against Skin


He placed flower petals between
my legs so his fingerprints

root in my thighs. Skin
like lace: delicate

bones burned
at the edges. He said

help me spread
across your

body. Folding
hands into flesh

like meat. My body
has thorns

sharp enough
to make the air

bleed. A wanting

can unlearn the warmth
of the darkest

hour. With hands
on flesh he said pretend

pain doesn’t scare
you. When my lipstick

got on his pillow case
he left

it there. This hour: a
dismantling frenzy.







Ashley Mares is the author of two chapbooks, A Dark, Breathing Heart (dancing girl press) and The Deer Longs for Streams of Water (Flutter Press). Her poetry has appeared in The Boiler, Hermeneutic ChaosWhiskey Island and others. Read more of her poetry at and follow @ash_mares2


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