Ashley Roach-Freiman

To My Husband

In bed beside you, I conjure
the Wolf River in August. The only place
in the city to get underwater.

Tires melt in the trees, the green fecund.
So psychedelic and multiple, summer’s
bricolage of ecstasies.

A quickening in my reddest self.
It is loud and quiet there, all bird, trash, and water.
You get lost in river talk and

I don’t always think I can share it.
Oh river, don’t give us
the copperhead slick

out of sight, spotted by the mystery man
in the kayak. Or the dread mechanical drill
of the robin at the 7:30 bright of gold,

every damn morning, such bruisers, like me,
pulling segmented flesh and bits of blue from your
carefully tended garden, pick and shred.

Oh, my stupid lack
of intention, blank knife
of knowledge.

Where did I leave you?
In the river,
to hollow and float?

Your face, a mask of hurt.
The ceiling fan
and I wilt and wait.

A complicated envy, to want
inside that mask. I, the dart-
thrower. The poison, instead.

On the other side of the bed,
I spoon my little dog and read Italian novels.
I was not through desiring.


The Barn

            —after the photograph by Gregory Crewdson

Is it lavender in the bowl, pale filaments needle-lipping
over the edge? Though the image is sharp, I can’t tell.
There are two things that don’t fit in this scene: the green bowl
and the girl. Perched on turquoise vinyl, legs bare enough
to make heat in the heat (it must be hot in there; all barns
are ovens and god if it isn’t full June out), toes delicately flexed.
The thing is, I can barely look at her feet, can’t imagine why
they are uncovered (much less the thin fabric of underwear,
as pool-blue as the mid-century stool, as the narrow eye
of panic. Clothing an afterthought.), she wouldn’t have
come here without shoes (unless). The door just open like anyone
can. A lot of sharp in this room. Crowbar. Splinter.
Saw. That chain, what’s it for? She looks down into (or away from) the hole.
Three wrens in a box top on the floor. Dead. What for?
And if the door is open to let in a storm and the hole
is the drain and the birds, well, there is nothing to do for them being dead,
and the girl too, nothing to do about her being alone, for now.

Author Portrait

Ashley Roach-Freiman is a librarian and poet with work appearing in Bone Bouquet, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Smartish Pace, The Literary Review, and Superstition Review. She coordinates and hosts the Impossible Language reading series in Memphis, TN.

View the website of Ashley Roach-Freiman