Ashe Vernon‘s poetry first came to my attention a couple of years ago when I began to see three short lines of her writing popping up everywhere I went on Tumblr: “There are poets who sing you to sleep / and poets who ready you for war / and I want to be both.” It’s exactly that sort of fierce softness that makes her poetry so great–it heals wounds as much as it exposes them, often both at the same time. The complex emotional journeys she writes of have sent me on my own inner pilgrimages of self-reflection numerous times–and they’ve inspired me to consider what my own version of tough vulnerability looks like in my own writing.
~Kim Kaletsky, Ideablog Managing Editor
To the Girls Afraid of Dying
I know that look.
I know what it means to be that kind of starving—
to fling open your arms and dare the sky
to meet you.
I know the fear of the sky
I do not know you, but I know you.
He is all false compliments, he is all hands.
But your hips are not an oasis, made for him
to come and drink.
Though his hands seem to sink in
to the sand dunes of your skin, your body
is not a desert.
You will believe him when he says
this is all you have to offer.
You were never sand dunes.
You were the sea.
Cut off all your hair.
Trade in your lion’s mane for a crown
of your darkest secrets.
Wear it like the proudest thing you’ve ever loved.
Learn to love the soft prickle of the short hairs
at the nape of your neck.
Touch them softly.
Learn to love yourself, next.
The bed is yours.
Do not ache for him just because
he tried to make a home in it.
The train is coming and you are in it.
The train is coming and you are on the tracks.
You have to make a decision, baby.
Sure, the train has smoke and steel and pistons,
but you are taller,
can make it back.
This poem was originally published on her blog here.
~~~Ashe Vernon is a 22 year old day-dreamer from Houston, Texas. She recently finished a cross-country poetry tour and is readjusting to the kind of adult life where you don’t get on a microphone and cry in front of strangers every other night. She has published two books of poetry–Belly of the Beast and Wrong Side of a Fistfight. Ashe is a tiny person with very small hands and a whole lot to say about it. More of her work can be found at latenightcornerstore.com.