Cliff Face is What You Pull Right Before You Die
You must understand how much I love my husband, how beautiful
he is naked in the kitchen in midnight thirst: his two beards,
his crooked left ear, how even after everything we go at it
like two beagles through a fence. My husband is a kind man,
and I am the lawnmower you know you’ll fix someday,
the stack of tomato cages from your daddy’s shed rusted into one
artsy clump. My husband is the mimosas springing
into pink blossom by the train track spiraling a million miles
to St. Louis, to Detroit, when neither of us dreamed of stealing
away from here. You see, the ground sags down as suddenly
as a body; or a body as the ground: how limestone has a lie in it.
Imagine him lying down, and all the fine hairs turn to bluish
grass, and I am an overpopulated deer, and I eat him all up.
How much can I need before I scream at you like a possum in the trash.
See this beautiful man take me into his arms, say alright now, alright.
Flirtation Might Require a Biological Component
Redbird doesn’t know he’s slang for menstruation when he skips to the beech top
and sings about sunshine and women.
If I made a pretty little basket, would you come
a-Maying? If I split the millet and safflower, would you come a-laying?
His is the first bright body I have seen this season; goldfinches still tarnished and androgynous,
wurblurs a Southern mouthful.
He flits his blush from cheek to cheek of the small forest;
his stiff tail bobs with each singing gutful like the modest hand of a mending woman,
darn, darn, darn.
He is the life of the party, what you wear at the collar for an assignation.
Color is blood rushing to the face while he imagines it elsewhere.
To color, you have to get the joke but be embarrassed you get the joke.
If I bent the thistle and the berry bush, would you be a-staying? If I lined this bole
with fragrant moss, would you still think I’m a-playing?
I still love redbird.
I don’t care how he harasses his golden girl.
I don’t care this is what certain men mean by natural.
Ashley Danielle Ryle’s work has most recently appeared in Zone3, Cordella, and Raleigh Review. Her chapbook Fetching My Sister is with Dancing Girl Press, and she was a recipient of a brief residency through the Kentucky Foundation for Women in 2014. She earned her MFA in 2011 from West Virginia University. She currently resides with her husband in central Pennsylvania while pursuing a PhD in materiality and grammars of sixteenth and seventeenth century women’s life-writing.