Sunday Oct 25

Hoiland-Poetry Ashley Mae Hoiland received a BFA in Painting and an MFA in Creative Writing in Utah. She runs a small business creating and selling paintings, and her own children’s books. Her work can be seen at She now lives in Palo Alto, California with her two small children and husband.

For Those Who Believe All Things Are Possible

On a windy July morning we stood in a field like
children. There, in the middle of town, near the high
school and the hospital, fifty hot air balloons lay
limp on the lawn. The announcer tried to keep the
crowds entertained, but no one could hear him over
the muffled loud speaker, and we formed small
tribes on the grass. The wind was too strong for a
delicate hot air balloon. Some people walked away.
Faithless. The wind stopped as if it had only been
testing our desire for the beautiful, and suddenly
with shushes and whooshes the balloons grew like
resurrected hills of wildflowers in spring. The sky
billowed oranges, reds, greens, yellows, pinks,
blues and purples. The whole crowd, tired kids,
parents with money problems, usually bored
teenagers, stood up and praised with familiar
language we would use the next day at church:
thank you, miracle, I knew. The first balloon that
lifted off the ground was checkered pink and red.
The man in the basket bent over the side and
reached to the crowd as if the hot air balloon
festival were the most important moment of his life.

There are times I want to record this world,
in every imperfect detail.
Because look here, at these people,
there’s me,
waving to the camera. Look at the faces
turned upward in the summer wind.
Look at the man rising
above in his basket,
touching as many hands as he can
before the ropes can’t hold him down.

Venus of Willendorf

Who carved the first soft stomach? Sharp tool held between deft fingers, shaping limestone round as sunrise. Was it woman who carved her identity into that statue? So small I could hold it in the palm of my hand, or in secret. Or was the Venus carved by man? Was he trying to capture the supple hills of a body that moves like an ocean under the surface? Was it hope for child, was it praise?

Now, I am wild with new heaviness. Peonies, full moon, cup my hands together and look inside. A subtle movement outward into the world, and still thoughts move ever inward. I am searching the veins around my heart. I touch my stomach often, rub my hand across the underside. Surely everyone must notice the way I round, the blood in my cheeks.  

Maybe it was Eve who made the Venus and painted it a soft earthen red inscribed with the message: We came for this, we came to be this.

I hiked through the hills at the top of a canyon where the air was thin. I wanted to lie down among the fallen granite and blooming wildflowers. I think about the tiny stone woman with no face. I want to hold her up, just to make sure she really does look like me.