Ashley-Elizabeth Best: Three Poems


To Kill a Queen

In the compost of my ancestors, I begin
bullying former versions of myself, my blood undermined.

The wolf who nuzzles open the fjord of my thighs
seems too young to demand an oath from.

Viking-gains leave deep wounds, my undoing in this
stone-slab land. A swung axe echoes down my throat.

Nobody is to be seen in this desolation. It isn’t so bad,
to walk in your own desire, almost young.


You Don’t Know What I Look Like When I’m Not In Love With You

A hill rises bravely in the north,
a few spindly trees appear on its scalp.
Colours striating the settling sun
like granite incisions under a glacier.

The grumble of the bus ruptures
doughy mounds loose from trees,
winter’s interrogation. This is a world
suffering snow.

My life has pushed ahead of me.
I walked away when the last gestures
of our love showed up.
I’m an awkward size to fit.

A shoal of girls crowd the back
of the bus, tragedian chatter
pulsing forward, seat by seat.
The socketing together of voices
building to a single chuffed
sibilant hiss.

The sun lingers in cauliflower
clouds, drably functional in its
passive light. The bus shuttling
the galled road, the needling
pinch of my thoughts, of what
he is doing with her.

I’ve divested my self, our parabolic
life. The woman beside me looks at a
photo in her wallet, smiles so deeply
only the pink of her gums show.
She’s mumbling, And the winds
are very important. Mackerel
is a windward fish. They go against
the wind.


I’ll Be the One You’ll Never Want

The grass salivates before dawn,
I am attuned to the collected fog,
the echoed lengths of distrust.

A harshened manoeuvre smothers
the image of him in confidant denial,
his face built deliberately slanted to
one side.

I suffer his eyes, havocking the swath
of trees near the coast, the dawdling
hum-drum of the car engine.

I lost my original body shape, his
old sweater swaddling my flaccid
belly. I hazard his tepid mind, a
certain romance, an out-of-breath
sob. He’ll eventually refer to me
as the ugly one.

He’s a rude pretender, a dream spore,
a strafing attack. My tired reputation,
to wrest flesh from dust.



Ashley-Elizabeth Best is from Cobourg, ON, Canada. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in CV2, Berfrois, Grist, Ambit Magazine, Glasgow Review of Books, Lumina, and The Literary Review of Canada. Recently she was shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. Her first book, Slow States of Collapse, is forthcoming with ECW Press. She lives and writes in Kingston.

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