Two Pieces by Ashlyn Sharp

Little Rewards

when the children in the monastery
have done their chores the monks present
them with little gifts for their tongues I have done
my day slunk up and down the snow trudged
sidewalks to slink into bed and
here we are again twisted
together like cinnamon laced
pretzel dough soft-rising in the oven
releasing yeast scented air I heard once
that pretzels are just human arms folded in prayer or
embracing another person I want to cross and
cross you again please forgive
all of my cracked surfaces please
dress me tender in thick crystals of salt
wrap me around your middle or in
between your limbs feet brushing feet fingers
tracing up and down your hips I
will take whatever shape
you want for me

Vessel

My mother, first and foremost, housed me
like a pearl inside her body.

A brown haired girl on a school trip, who’s hands
found mine as the sun set and set and set into that perfect
pool of a sky, a brown haired boy with my first kiss,

a curly haired girl in my very first apartment,

and a brown eyed boy who didn’t live in my apartment
but always managed to find my ugliest places beneath his
fingertips — my toes, with their double joints and crooked
toenails; my knees, fleshy and, usually, a little bruised,
— and press his lips to the little stray hairs on my forehead,
to the knuckles of my right hand; threw his arms like fishing nets
around my body, kissed the nape of my neck like waves
making shore, like waves whispering here here here here,
like waves showing my ghost to which shell it belonged
whenever the tide came in.

Sometimes, I imagine the human body as a boat, filled to spilling
with cargo, the sea always slapping at its feet just to swallow
the leftovers. What I mean is English is a shit language.

There are too many words tangled
like fishing line in thesauruses. Our dictionaries
are too heavy to fit comfortably in our pockets, let alone the backs
of our mouths. What I mean is that sometimes, we didn’t know
how to say I love you. Sometimes, we didn’t even know how to say
I like you. But our hands were more precise than our tongues

and teeth. Skin slipped past skin like tectonic plates, an infinitesimal
motion that could somehow displace an ocean. And I have displaced
so many oceans. And I must have flooded every house on every
street, every channel in all the continents. Sometimes, I feel

I have touched enough people to drown the world.

 

Ashlyn Sharp is an undergraduate student of Creative Writing at Utah State University, where she interns with Sink Hollow Literary Journal. In 2018, she was named a finalist for the Swenson Legacy Poetry Contest, and has work appearing in Whale Road Review and Honey and Lime Lit. Follow her on Twitter @ashjenn6.

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