My shore's approaching deep water, limestone slabs
plank over the shallows, the wrecked visage of the
not-yet-drowned. The slushy rhythm of the lake,
the thrump, thrump in my ears underwater,
in the shambling belly of conflicted currents,
swatting upward, the promise of a surface bearing
down. Air rises in my throat, water taking into
my mouth, ragged in the womb, the thrump, thrump
of your heart sailing back, there in the ultrasound
dark, one long-held note wavering under the brawling
waters of the lake. You pull yourself out on a muscled
fist of precambrian shield, the lake's throat. The clouds
weather in, circle, pull the arms of trees cruelly until
they wave away socks of mist, their flexible spines
bestowing a myth on the roots. I cringe over a bank
of rock and crawl under the skirts of a spruce, the forest
floor ornamented with the shading drift of wildflowers,
the blood of light coagulates, extreme in its certainties.
I vanish into sleep listening to a loon's purling overture.
How can I muster meaning from what it said? The lilacs
have all rusted off, already gone, moving within something
else. I put a mossy stone in my mouth, old blood under
my fingernails. Here fear stands, scavenging to understand
what I want, grief chewing into the cartilage of the seasons.
Ashley-Elizabeth Best is from Cobourg, ON, Canada. She was on the poetry shortlist for the 2011 and 2013 Matrix Litpop Awards and Prism's Poetry Prize 2012. Her work can be seen in Fjords, Tampa Review, CV2, The Columbia Review, Berfrois, The Rusty Toque, The Battersea Review, The Puritan, Zouch Magazine, Grist, and Branch Magazine, among other publications. She placed first for poetry in This Magazine's Great Canadian Literary Hunt 2012, and was the poetry runner-up for subTerrain Magazine's Lush Triumphant Literary Awards 2012. She has a chapbook published with Cactus Press called Slow States of Collapse. She lives and writes in Kingston, Ontario.