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Ashley lives in the city where the people are made of ashes.  They eat ash sandwiches and wear ash lipstick.  Their cars are more dark dandelion puff than steel--they flutter away when someone sneezes.  Ashley likes to jump rope with a girl made of wind, a girl who lives in a house that isn't.  With Ashley bouncing, bits of her flake off and fluff about like pieces of a wish that have not hit bottom yet.  Say you cry hello on Ashley's street, what enters your mouth is other people's fleshiness just after it’s been torched.  People flash hello in this, coughing and waving their hands, then out falls their ashen tongues in prayer.  For inside each citizen there's an allotment of coals, and they're burning up fast.  And there's a flagpole rising in their center, and it is pointing nowhere. When too much of her has gone missing, Ashley stops bouncing or twirling or licking the ash sandwiches off her fingers.  She takes up with her twirling arm a net, and goes hunting in the wind.  Can you see her swatting at all her parts--bits of a lower lip; pieces of her nipple; scraps from a kneecap or a few toes?  No matter, the moment she pieces her body back together someone sneezes and half her face flies away.  Her arm is strong, though.  Sometimes she twirls her rope even while she sleeps.  They say her bedposts vibrate and budge and try and lift off the floor and leap over the rope.  When soldiers from her city come home from the windy war, they untie the ribbons from around their ash trees and take them tight around their throats.  They go in search of a bell ringing somewhere high in a blizzard of ash and wind, that bell Ashley keeps loose as a pendant hanging from her neck.  They follow the chiming to where Ashley with her arm swings her rope, sometimes swishing it over the treetops, then down again.  Now the soldiers are home in Ashley's swinging arm.  She has grown since they were gone.  She cries Billy? or Joey? John? 




ashley and the girl made of wind

john rybicki