To The Person Who Said “I Don’t Even Know Where Life Goes Anymore”

Ashley Oakes

It falls behind the refrigerator, accidentally
vacuumed from floorboards where
three layers of old trim reveal
it used to be interested
in homemaking. It got given
away in many school bake sales
Four times a week it runs
slow miles where it begrudges
calling its mother. It cries
over its friend Jason’s death
and goes over, another time
their final exchange of memes
involving cats (that makes it laugh)
It goes for a swim
where it floats in unspectacular pools.
It drives
with all the windows down for the dog
merging like everyone else
into one lane, finding itself
unable to turn around.
It visits the library frequently.
It relaxes on the sofa.
It remembers to brush its teeth
and it remains
skeptical of nutritional supplements
Reading in bed it is interrupted
by its husband
who says sleep well. It turns to him
saying ‘love you.’ It lies
on top of the sheets. It is ashamed
it flirted with an old lover
for months. It folds laundry, creasing
the towels in crisp thirds.
It sweeps the lint trap
with one hand
it lifts each of its breasts, feeling
for changes
as it has been told to. It settles
with increasing velocity: it knows
it is a contradiction. It can’t be taken
literally. It moves away
like the woman in the passenger seat
of a passing car
as she stops staring
in the rearview mirror to focus
on the driver. He says
it is going to be a great trip
as they head west into the sun

Ashley Oakes is a freelance photographer living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Like many people, she is middle aged, with children, pets and interests. She tries to spend as much time as possible paying attention to the people and things she loves. Her poems have appeared most recently in Claw+Blossom, Gyroscope Review and Last Leaves Magazine. 

Art: Another Day by Kayla Branstetter from Missouri who is an English professor for Crowder College. She holds a MALS degree in Art, Literature, and Culture from the University of Denver. Her creative nonfiction, poetry, art, fiction, and photography have appeared in the following publications: New Plains Review, The Kansas City Star, Grand Dame Literary Journal, Humans of the World, New Reader Magazine, The Write Launch, the Crowder Quill, Light & Space ‘All Women’ exhibit, Light & Space “Abstract” exhibit, The Human Family–Human Rights Festival, The Paragon Press-Echo: Journal of Creative Nonfiction, 805+, High Shelf Press, The Esthetic Apostle, the gyara journal, Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, Buringword Literary Journal, The Poet’s Choice, The Sheepshead Review, and a former contributing writer to a regional magazine Ozark Hills and Hollows. Recently, her art pieces, ‘Life’s Dance’ and “Aurora” were featured in exhibitions for M.A.D.S a contemporary art gallery in Milan, Italy. She has received an art award from Rome, Italy and in 2022, received another art award from Italy. She is currently working on her first book.McGrath resides in Shorewood, Wisconsin with her husband and two children where she is currently an active artist in her community. She taught art K-12 in Chicago and Milwaukee, and at the College level at Colorado State University. McGrath is collected and exhibited throughout the United States.

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