These days,
her small wrinkled mouth is shut.
We grew so tired of her sad tales.

Memory was always her strongest opponent.
Behind her tearful tongue, many
cavities in gold crowns.
She wasn’t always like this.
In the Seventies, she was a brunette
and her words a little more
and I wish I could have known her then.
Before the clutter and the debt.
Before the broken family relics
hiding above in rafters. 

But some time during it all
she must have
her Painbirds
and let them fall right into her lap
so that sadness stayed very close.

Often I wonder what it would look like,
before the damage, if ever
she had chosen the sea.
I would have liked that . . . 
“to see the salt and wind in your hair.”

But there was never
a key for that. 
Her confinement was always  
with the Painbirds, trapped
in a life-sentenced brain cell.

Most days I wish she hadn’t loved
so hard. 

Ashley Warren is a Minnesota native and currently lives in Long Beach, CA. Her work has appeared in many print and online journals including Hiram Poetry Review, Red River Review, Old Red Kimono, Convergence Magazine and Sparkle + Blink.

Read our interview with Ashley here.