[Poem] Our Story by Ashley Mueth

Along the lily pads
I follow you
to our secret fort,
to escape the sirens.
Homes burn, the grass
blazes orange and red
in our backyard.
With you, I’m not tense.
You touch my soul
beyond everyday conversation
of politics, suffering, war.
You confess your knowledge,
through trauma and healing,
the workings
Of the mind. 
You find joy in small things
like cookies and pastel pens,
watercolor stickers and wands.
This stash you hid
after our department stores
were bombed.
The joy I find in
Your smile–
when you create something frame by frame.
Your laughter–
when you hear comedy.
Your small gestures–
to provide a supportive hand.
You share something
So simple and ordinary, 
With me.
It is special–
Because these small,
Simple things are “home.”
Your eyes sparkle–
Joy radiates from within.
You are simply
An adventurer, poet, lover.
You seek maps, language, understanding.
You seek fantasy and reality
And hope that a future exists
Beyond chaos and suffering.
I find myself thinking of you
every single moment. Every single day.
Every single hour. Every single minute.
Seconds. As we grow older hoping that
the bombs, ammunition, and tanks will
end–I cherish every day you and I live
to tell our children and grandchildren
the stories of dragons, forts, and wands.
To find a soul that speaks to
another mind in a way
that is childhood,
the current moment,
and the future we
dream of together–
is nearly impossible.
My heart is broken.
I think of you. Your smile. Your laugh. It hurts me.
Sixty five years together.
Sometimes, I hold your favorite
flowers. The scent is you.
The flowers die. I pick more
hoping to hold on
to you for eternity.
Only in death
I hold you again.

About the Author
Ashley Mueth is a graduate teaching assistant and writer at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale. She has published poetry with Grassroots and CentraLit Magazine. She was the 2021 Jon Tribble Poetry Award recipient in Grassroots and the 2020 Suicide Prevention Day Award recipient in CentraLit. Her poems “Soulless” and “Doves” were published by the American Library of Poetry. Her poetry chapbook Sunflowers Bloom is available for purchase on Amazon.

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