Lisa Ashley – Angling Down

I’ve been angled all day, bent.
Sharp-cornered by the dying
in hospital beds, swathed in tubes and lines,
drips and vents, I see them
flattened, tilting at death’s windmill.

The nurse intersects with daughter, son, wife,
holds out the hard black rectangle
that delivers their last off kilter words,
sharp declarations of love, keened
out in the hard-lined hall.

She turns back to the bed, listens
for the apex breath that tips
his life from now to after.
She holds his hand.

In the glaring break room
she slants against the wall,
slides down until she meets the floor,
pinned below her grief.

I reach into the broken frame,
take her in my arms.

Previously published in Amsterdam Quarterly.

Lisa Ashley, MDiv, is a 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee and descendent of survivors of the Armenian genocide. She spent eight years companioning and providing safe space as a chaplain for incarcerated youth. Lisa navigates her life and garden with physical limitations and unlimited imagination. Her poems have appeared in Amsterdam Quarterly, Blue Heron Review, The Healing Muse, Gyroscope, Last Leaves Literary Review and othersShe writes in her log home among the firs on Bainbridge Island, WA, having found her way there from rural New York by way of Montana and Seattle.

Photo by cottonbro studio on