Flakes of Ash


Flakes of Ash 

Jordan Patria


I heard a story once,

By a woman with a withered face.

She had a big scar across her eye,

It looked old but still, it burned red.

You could see every line on her face.

Every smile she ever laughed,

Every frown she cried.

Her eyes were a rich chocolate brown.

Well, the one that still worked was,

The other was a ghostly white. 

Bruises and bumps scattered her frail limbs.

They told a story.

Every bulging vein a river,

Always leading to a splotchy purple lake.

You could almost tell how she got every mark,

It was so visible,

So clear.

But when she spoke,

I didn’t look at her scratched legs,

Or her veiny hands.

I didn’t wonder how her grey hair was so perfectly braided,

Flowing down her shoulder like a stream.

I didn’t listen to the silent jingle her jewelry made every time she would move.

Nor did I watch the way her thin lips would move so fluently,

Like a soft breeze.

They would curve up and down,

Copying the outline of a mountain.

I didn’t admire the way her eye would light up when the sunlight hit it just right,

The way the rays would dance and sparkle.

When she spoke,

I watched the scar,

Because it was so foreign to everything she was.

It was cold and stiff,

It didn’t move with the rest of her face.

I just sat there,

Mean and angry,

Searing through her skin every time she laughed.

She was so unfazed by it,

Like it wasn’t there.

I swear it started moving,

Like a beating heart would.

But she just kept telling the tall tale.

She had to have known I wasn’t looking at her,

She must have known what I was looking at.

Because as I watched it,

Something in my eyes changed,

As they squinted and squirmed.

Looking deeper and deeper,

Buried under scarred tissue and blood,

Was the truth.

And she had to have known what I saw.

Because she held her shaky hand out,

And she placed it on my damp cheek.

I snapped my attention to her,

She was smiling,

A sad and sorrowful smile.

Then one by one,

She flaked apart,

Turning to ash,

And flowing away,

Up into the sky.

Until there was nothing left at all.