New Welsh Review

Proud Flesh

Poem by Ashley-Elizabeth Best

PUBLISHED ON: 26/01/21


TAGS: Science, death, illness, mental health, nature, suicide, wildlife

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I had fallen out of love with everything. It was calming to think of all
the ways a person could go, but wasn’t serious enough to pull it off.

A routine laparoscopic procedure had left me with internal bleeding.
Doctors told my father I may die, but I didn’t believe them. I was too
calm on the delivery, had none of the frenzied disbelief of the truly

All the white-coated hens clucked as a mask lowered onto my face.
This wasn’t the typical story I hoped it would be; I have lived variously.

A month after my release I cut my hair short and studied the heart of a blue whale.

I thought of how easily I could crawl inside and pound the taut lining
until everyone at the ROM thought me alive again, in my heart shroud.
My eyes redden on capillaries; blessed are those who are seen and not

silent. Here, a rose in the vase of a blue heart, I finger the dry stitches
on my belly, imagine turning inside out, the stuff coming out like roots,
like thread. Like the inside of a mackerel – the fine gut – the same colour,
just like that.



Ashley-Elizabeth Best is a disabled poet and essayist from Kingston, ON, Canada. Her work can be foundin CV2, AmbitThe Literary Review of Canada, The Columbia Review and Glasgow Review of Books, among many others. In 2015, she was a finalist for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, and her debut collection of poetry, Slow States of Collapse, was published by ECW Press.