Cable Knit Sweaters for Motherless Lambs



When I got out of the military, I stayed on in Albuquerque, renting a house month-to-month from a woman who’d recently been moved to a nursing home. I slept during the day and got a job working nights at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, cleaning the exhibits. I spent my shifts amongst replicas of da Vincis and mock-ups of stone carvings from the paleolithic era, listening to symphonies and crime podcasts through my headphones. There was a 24-hour taqueria down the street with a walk-up window. I would order a to-go burrito through the bulletproof glass and take my lunch at one in the morning inside the atrium that housed the dinosaur skeletons. Their bones were fused together with a collagen polymer and noosed to the ceiling with twine. I’d sit inside the yawning ribcage of a low-bellied stegosaurus, where its phantom lungs used to be, and eat my burrito out of tin foil and drink champagne from a thermos. In the remaining hours, I felt like a gilled, webbed, aquatic being swimming through the fossils. I’d go up the glass staircase to the observation deck and put the helmet on in the virtual reality exhibit, my synapses sparking with the acoustics and physics of careening through deep space. I slicked down the linoleum halls with Mop & Glo concentrate and felt like I was in the wet birth canal of the universe.

I walked home and made myself a sloe gin nightcap and drank it on the velour sofa, settled in to watch the prerecorded welterweight fights. Mac used to fight welterweight before he joined the military, and I’d gotten in the habit of watching them with him. The warmth of the sun through the casement windows made me feel like I was melding with the couch. A motorized chair folded down from the wall at the bottom of the stairs leading up to my bedroom. It wheeled along a track mounted below the railings. The woman who owned the home had used it after she’d suffered a fall, and her children hadn’t dismantled the contraption before renting out the house. When I was aglow from the booze, I would ride the chair up to bed and fall on top of the comforter, hands gritty, my hair smelling of Windex.

On weekends, I’d drive to Santa Fe alone to catch first chair. I loved the feeling of my skis dangling from the lift, the weight of them pulling on my shins, the strain of it, of taut muscle paring from bone. When I crested the peak I’d pull down my goggles, slice into the virgin grooved corduroy. I could drown in that beloved quietude, all still except for my waxed epoxy skis grazing against the slopes. The first run was for testing the mountain. Sometimes my skis buttered down the hill and other times they scored into the crust, sounded like an ice scraper on a windshield. When I coasted to the bottom, I unclipped from my bindings and went inside to get a drink from the lodge. I ordered orange juice and tequila, then a chocolatey beer with two shots dropped in. This was my routine. I loved the ski bar. The brass counters, the wall of windows, the neon signs, the colorful bottles of gin and vermouth and whiskey lined up shoulder-to-shoulder like little soldiers. I would ski and drink and ski and drink, doing arabesques and pirouettes across the terrain until the late afternoon shadows stretched long over the mountain. My calves and thighs had a pleasant burn from the vigor of the exercise. When I was on the mountain, I thought about nothing except the calisthenics of my body.

It was one of these weekends, at the end of a ski day, that I saw the advertisement, printed on a sheet of computer paper and posted to the community cork board between the bathrooms. It was a photo of an adobe home in an open stretch of desert, a woman in a poncho standing in the foreground with a miniature donkey bridled beside her. She was looking for someone to care for her house and stable. Six months. The length of a deployment. I tore one of the tabs with her contact information from the bottom of the paper and called that night. I was still a little drunk but I didn’t think I sounded drunk. I told the woman I had just gotten out of the military. I didn’t know much about animals. I was trying to find my footing. She said she’d been hard-pressed to find someone she could trust, but she liked that I’d been in the military, and an officer too, not some enlisted smut that had been getting in catfights at bars. She taught at St. John’s and was leaving before Christmas for a sabbatical to eastern Europe. The job came with a small stipend. We planned to meet the next weekend so she could show me the ropes, introduce me to the rhythms of life on a small farm.

I got a corn dog from a truck stop on the fringe of town and paid seven dollars for a shower, then drove back up the mountain. I’d be sleeping in my car that night, waiting for the lifts to open the next day. I found a cove of trees near the shoulder and parked. I could see the lights of Santa Fe spread out below me like a sea of blinking jewels. It reminded me of when I was a little girl, looking at the miniature ceramic houses around the train tracks in the model-size Christmas village at the shopping mall, all lit up. My mother worked in the See’s Candy store and let me run around the mall on the weekends. I could spend hours watching the train chug along the tracks, listening to the church bells peal on the quarter of the hour. I’d imagine the lives of all the people in the village, the barber and the firefighter and the postman and the schoolteacher and the doctor, like people out of the Saturday Evening Post. I imagined them ice skating, bundled in scarves, eating dinner at a notched wood table, singing Christmas carols at a piano, sitting before a hearth in the evening with stacks of books. That was what Santa Fe was like to me. I liked to be up in the mountains, at a distance from it.

The first time I’d been to Santa Fe was with Mac. We used to come here to get away from Albuquerque, from people who might see us together. He was enlisted and our whole arrangement was forbidden. In the summer, he would be antsy, agitated. He would say he wished it was ski season. He would say, just imagine when those mountains are blanketed with snow. Just imagine what it will feel like to come flying down those slopes. I loved Santa Fe in summer and was ashamed at my own simplicity, the way I could walk for hours in the hills amongst the saguaro cacti, the creosote bushes and paloverde trees, the lupines and golden poppies. I would have been happy exploring old caves and mines, hiking the cliffs for a chance to see mule deer and big-horned sheep. 

I wished I could make the snow appear for him. I worried maybe we couldn’t spend happy hours with each other unless there was some kind of thrill. We got a handle of rum from the liquor store and sat on the hood of his Jeep in the empty ski lodge parking lot. It felt like a ghost town—the locked up ski rentals, the dark bar. The vendor who normally sold beads and tapestries had drawn the window shades shut like eyelids. We drank for hours and then took to the winding road back down the mountain. Mac loved those turns when his head was swimming. He stuck his hand out the window to feel the pressure of the drag, to cup his palm against the wind. I licked my lips and bared my wet teeth, let out a feral howl, yipped like a coyote. The sky was murderously blue. So bright it was unseeable.


My first week at June’s house, I got snowed in. I’d prepared by bringing armfuls of logs in from the woodpile and stacking them against the wall by the wood stove. I’d checked on the donkey and the goats and made sure they had fresh alfalfa to last them through a few hard days in case it came to that, then cozed into the sofa with a bottle of gin. I tried to open the front door the next morning and found myself pushing against an embankment of snow. The eaves were heavy with icicles. This suited me. I wanted to spend the whole winter either skiing or in hibernation. The lights on the WiFi router had gone out, but I hadn’t done anything about it. I took occasional trips to an internet café in town. It gave me a purpose. I would send photos of the animals so that June knew they were okay, that I was taking care of them as she’d instructed, and then I would retreat back into isolation. 

When I explored around, I realized the house was dry. I found sobriety poker chips amongst June’s belongings and shut the desk drawer in the den, blushing. I felt like I’d found out too much, living here inside her husk. Her bathroom smelled of lanolin and foot powder, old cosmetics. There was a vibrator under the sink next to a gallon jug of hand soap. It looked like a plug-in drill from a hardware store. There were crucifixes on the walls and half-assembled Lego kits on the bookcases and end tables, unfinished Star Wars spaceships and roller coaster theme parks that looked decimated by apocalypse. There were none of the telltale signs of grandchildren. No strands of paper snowflakes in the windows, no coloring books or finger paints, no broken crayons nestled along the baseboards. I wondered if the Legos were June’s distraction from drink, how she kept herself occupied, a task that required her to be precise and nimble.

I was halfway into a bottle of champagne when I saw out the window that a woman was approaching the house, using poles to propel herself forward on cross-country skis. I got up, my brain warm, and reached for the shovel that was leaning in the entryway. I nudged the door open into the snow and started digging for clearance. I felt shamed. I wondered if June had dispatched this woman to check on me. I wondered if she suspected I wasn’t showering or cleaning. I wondered if she was worried about her farm. I was having trouble doing anything, unless it was a day I was skiing, but I had been diligent with the animals. I checked on them before the sun came up, turned over a crate in the barn and watched the chickens flutter around. I talked to the goats. They were named, but I’d forgotten them so I made up my own — Hansel and Caspian and Millie. 

I scooped and tossed and scooped and tossed but when the woman drew closer, she laughed and waved me off. She tramped up to the door on her skis and used one of them as a plow. She smoothed snow back in quick, elegant, practiced strokes. Once she had cleared a path, she unclipped from her skis and leaned them against the side of the house. She removed her cap and shook the snow from her hair. Her name was Marrell. Her property was adjacent to June’s. She had heard there was a girl here taking care of things while June was gone and she wanted to come make sure I was okay with all this snow. She was wearing a soft old hunting jacket. In one of her pockets she’d brought waffles wrapped in aluminum foil and a jar of maple syrup. She sat on the sofa while I got a plate and laid out the waffles. They were almost cold. She chatted while I ate. There was chipotle pepper in the syrup that had a lovely burn when it went down my throat. 

Marrell looked to be in her late fifties from the folds around her mouth and eyes. I thought, how fabulously lucky to be able to age into those wrinkles, so mature and steadfast and enduring. She seemed like the type of woman who took shots of ginseng with horse-pill vitamins, drank glasses of lukewarm water with cayenne and lemon, angled her body into a sun salutation at dawn in a room full of plants in earthenware pots. She was wearing a chambray work shirt. Her hands were rough and callused, I imagined from growing corn and beans and squash in the summer, tending to her animals in the cold. She hugged me before she left, said she would come visit again soon. I hoped the syrup was heavy on my breath to disguise the sweet spritz of champagne.

The next day Marrell brought me green chile pot pie in a cleaned out coffee can and invited me to her house for a New Years celebration. She’d ordered a piñata. All of the neighbors would be there. A special sheet cake had been commissioned for the goats. I’d altogether forgotten that the new year was approaching. Marrell squeezed my hand and told me I had to come, that I should just bring myself. I spent the rest of the day recovering from the social interaction. I laid on the sofa and wondered if Marrell felt like I was a project. I wondered if she could sense my mother had died. I wondered if she could sense things had fallen apart for me.

A man came and plowed the driveway with a Ford Ranger that had a big metal scoop on the grill. He didn’t come inside, just plowed and left. I drove to the internet café to send June an update and found Marrell on Facebook. She was a realtor. She had a husband named Xavier, the same man who had plowed my driveway. Their children were grown and gone.

When I was in middle school, I remembered seeing a holiday movie about a family. Diane Keaton was the mother. She swept about in ballroom skirts and set the dinner table with Italian indigo china from a glass cabinet. There were champagne toasts and candles and delicate boats of gravy. Marrell reminded me of this version of Diane Keaton, except perhaps kinder. She was a matriarch. She was someone you could talk to over a cup of tea. She wore square reading glasses and had specific knives for specific cheeses and you could tell she’d be able to pull out her checkbook if you needed it. She could listen to a story and help you make sense of it. I wanted to tell her about the hostage. I wanted to tell her about my mother. I wanted to tell her about Mac. I wanted to crawl inside her sturdy body, curl up, have her tell me it was going to be okay, that none of it was my fault, that some things were too far gone and just couldn’t be saved.


I could hear the music from the windows as I trudged up to Marrell’s house on New Years, a bottle of champagne in hand. I strapped out of my snow shoes as I approached. The front door was graced on either side by stacks of wood and bales of alfalfa. Inside, a fire was ablaze in the hearth. It felt like a place I’d been before, but only in my imagination. There was a familiarity in the concrete slabs of flooring, the stuffed deer and foxes, the plush marigold sectional, the folk art and dream catchers and bits of pottery. It smelled like anise and fennel and piñon.

Marrell was in the kitchen, standing below a rack of glimmering metal saucepans that hung over the center island. A posole stew was on the stove, waiting to be served up with polenta and poached eggs. Marrell offered me a drink when she saw me, a spicy ginger cocktail. There were so many people. I did not know where all these people could have come from. The women were adorned in turquoise and pearls, lantern blouses with braided trim and jackets with fleece cuffs, dripping a wealth that still seemed close to the earth, sensible. I sat on the floor of the pantry with the house dog, a Brittany spaniel. It was little more than a closet. It smelled like walnut shells. I chewed the ginger in my drink to a poultice. I hadn’t eaten all day, in preparation for the party. I wanted to wait until my brain was thrumming and then I would go out and move serenely around all these friendly people, transformed into an expatriate daughter of their plutocracy, ready to clink glasses and laugh and charm them all up to the stroke of midnight. 

I didn’t recall falling asleep, but when I woke, I was on the sofa covered in a wool horse blanket and the sky was turning a deep cobalt. My boots were arranged neatly on the floor. There was a glass of water on the coffee table and two ibuprofen tablets on a napkin beside it. I could hear coffee percolating. I sat up. There didn’t seem to be anyone up and about. The pot must have been on a timer. The dishes had been stacked by the sink, bean-crusted bowls and bulbed wine glasses with purple puddles at their throats. There were bits of confetti from the piñata littered about on the Persian rugs. I’d assisted with stringing up the pink and purple papier-mâché lamb from the ceiling beams the night before. People had been impressed with my knowledge of slipknots. They’d asked if I’d been a boy scout. We’d batted at the lamb with a waxed walking stick. Its shell laid in a heap in the corner. Its contents had been pulled out in fists.

I laced up my boots and slipped out the front door.


The next time I saw Marrell was a few days later, when she appeared in my yard with a pair of skis strapped to her back. They were vintage wooden skis, made of bowed birch, mountains painted along the tips. She invited me out for a turn around the property. I bundled up and set off with her. We made our way out the drive along tracks she’d already packed into the snow. One of her wolfhounds came along and was bounding beside us, shaking his gnarled mane in glee whenever he got buried in a deep drift. We didn’t speak. She led us up the ridge behind our homes and I sank into the grit and verve of the exercise, my heart pounding and blood coursing through my muscles. 

We made our way along canyon trails, passing a crumbling presidio, clusters of organ pipe cacti covered in snow. We came upon a sulfur hot spring that trickled down a blunt rock face like a sacristy. It felt like consecrated ground. The rock formations were inscribed with petroglyphs. They were silent and cold like burial chambers. When we got to the top, I felt like I was looking down at a little village in a snow globe, covered in a dusting of powder. I could cup the whole landscape in the palms of my hands. The city had been built along a mantle between shelves of limestone and ore and copper. A scrim of brush lined the top of the granite hills, before they gave way to steep mountains with dry alpine forests. We could see all of Navajo country from up here, the silt-laden river that irrigated the crops, the esplanade beside it, the adobe homes and the outdoor opera amphitheater. I pictured ages past where bonfires lit up the landscape, coming-of-age sunrise dances and ritual ceremonies to coax crops out of the tough earth.

I found myself telling Marrell about the last deployment, how I loved the desert because it reminded me of the work we’d been doing in Yemen, dispatching helicopters from the Horn of Africa that flew into the night like swarms of humming insects. Our mission was to rescue Western hostages. I was in charge of readying the fleet. All of the mechanics worked for me. I liked walking out to the tarmac where it shimmered like an ocean in the wet heat. I liked surveying the helicopters as they were being bathed, rigged, lubed, dressed for battle. We glugged gas in their tanks, stroked their grey rounded noses before flight and whispered to them like they were animals, like they were great mechanical belugas that ran on fossil fuels. 

Marrell asked me why I’d left such a good living. The retired Air Force officers she knew had houses and boats and took ski vacations to Canada and Peru.

I’d decided in the fall. I’d been living in an asymmetrical ranch-style house in Albuquerque where I could look out the cathedral windows and see the skirt of the Sandía Mountains. I was laying on a towel in my xeriscaped yard where hummingbirds came to scout out my bougainvillea. Water thrushed from a small fountain into a pond that homed a pair of thick orange koi fish. I was hot. The corners of my vision turned green with vertigo when I stood up. I’d been drinking, though it was a weekday. I’d been home from Africa only a month. The commander had said to stay away while the investigation was completed. 

I would have told them everything outright, if they’d asked. But everyone else had clammed up and gotten lawyers. 

I drove to base and walked into the colonel’s office unannounced. I stood in front of his big mahogany desk and told him I wanted to walk. I wanted my exit papers and I wanted to go quietly. 

By an act of mercy, he let me.

We weren’t supposed to drink out there, but everyone did. People had Jim Beam and Jack Daniels and Crown Royal shipped to them in USPS boxes. The trick was slipping a five dollar bill and a Snickers to the Djiboutians who worked the mailroom. Whenever we had a successful rescue, we’d wash the blood from the back of the helicopter with hoses. We’d blast AC/DC on boom boxes. We’d put our planes to bed, moor them down with chains to the parking apron, and go celebrate. I was one of the only women out there. It was important for the men to know that I could be one of them. 

Mac was a medic. He had been siphoning pills from his inventory and sidelining them for our carousing. We would crowd together in a green canvas tent after the big ops went down. We’d mix Ambien cocktails, wash codeine down with whiskey. Someone had gotten ahold of some ketamine. 

When the call went out, we were asleep. A video had been released showing a BBC reporter with a bag over his head, kneeling in the desert, a machete at his throat, a countdown on his head. We were asleep. The higher ups came looking for us. They came into our party tent and shook us awake. They said, get your shit together. Get your fucking shit together. But by the time we were with it, had roused and come to our senses, the timeline had lapsed for us to set everything in motion. It was a lost cause.

And to think we believed we were saviors.


Marrell squeezed my hand and said the fresh air was good for all types of heartache. She did not look at me like I was a monster. She said she could tell that I’d been carrying a heavy burden. She invited me back to her house for a late lunch, and I came along. We had tamales and chocolate cake. She gave me a pair of clean clothes and sent me off to shower, told me to stay for baking and a movie. I liked baking because it was exacting. When my mother was on a hiatus from drinking, she would bake. An idle mind is the enemy of sobriety, she would say. She would pour hot sauce in seltzer water to drink as she measured out flour and confectioner’s sugar. She would drink vinegar for the burn down her throat while she counted out individual cranberries and chocolate chips for scones. When I was trying to get clean from Mac, when I was homebound from work because of the investigation, I would bake. I bought a gorgeous, sleek KitchenAid mixer. I baked cookies for the llamas and the goats at the Albuquerque petting zoo and got free admission with my military ID. I fed them covertly through the chain-link fence, stroking their noses like they were my planes.

My mother had been so beautiful. Sometimes she stole cashmere sweaters and alligator skin purses from Macy’s and they looked just right with her caramel-colored hair and Farah Fawcett bangs. Once she worked a seasonal job selling Elizabeth Arden. I would sit behind the glass counters with her while she arranged miniature samples in gauze baggies for women buying hand creams and perfume. She would pour rum in her coffee and wink at me. I was allowed to play with the makeup. I drew butterflies on my cheeks with blue eyeliner, hearts with red lipstick. After she got fired from her job for stealing, I did research at the library. I knew sometimes she took medicine, but she wasn’t consistent. Lithium was supposed to be good for bipolar so I started dropping batteries in the back of the coffee pot where you poured the water and hoped it would steep into the brew and help her feel better. 

Next she got a job as a cleaning lady. She would set me up with Sister Act or Titanic on Pay Per View while she ran the vacuum in the next room, and I felt snug and safe inside someone else’s big secure life. When we got home we would eat dinner out of boxes. We dyed our hair together out of boxes. Her hands smelled like Pine Sol and amaretto liqueur when she brushed my hair back from my forehead. These were the things I remembered when she was gone. Chocolate coins and evaporated milk. Wasabi seaweed crackers. Sitting naked in the private saunas in rich ladies’ homes. Listening to the police blotter. Going to test out Sertas and Spring Airs at Mattress Land. What I wouldn’t do to be able to wrap myself back up in the safety of that life.

When I got out of the shower, Marrell told me to make myself comfortable in the living room. I turned on the TV, my towel swirled atop my head like an ice cream cone, and clicked around the channels. I didn’t have cable at June’s and had lost touch with what was happening in the world. When I was in the military, I would know what was happening before it hit the media. We would have go-bags stashed in our offices in case war broke out with North Korea. I intentionally shut the world out once I took my uniform off for the last time. I couldn’t bear to hear about it. I didn’t know who I was anymore in relation to all that. 

CNN was broadcasting drone videography of a massive column of smoke. I’d heard about the bush fires throwing capes of flames across the Australian desert, sweeping across sand dunes, leaving behind ash and outcrops of bald rock, but this was the first I’d seen of it. Tears sparked at the corners of my eyes. My mother and I used to make collages together on the living room floor with Elmer’s glue sticks. We would cut out images from magazines and paste them onto poster boards. My mother had read a sobriety book about dream boards. When you felt like the need was too great to bear, you had to distract yourself. It was the same idea as baking, except you were creating a mirage of your future. 

My mother loved Australia. She’d never been and never would before she died. By the time she was ready to get on the wagon, it was too late. Her liver was already greying from cirrhosis. But she loved to keep travel magazines on her nightstand in the hospital, a way of clinging to hope. She could describe Australia with the richness of a geologist. When she talked about Australia, she became Jane Goodall to me. She would tell me stories of otters cracking shells of mussels with their molars, of vast subterranean spaces, rivers flowing underground. She said one day we would visit the pearl-white beaches, grains of sand fine as sugar. We would gaze at the splendor of subtropical gardens from a wide verandah and sip shiraz in sun hats. We’d go and see the fur seals and sea lions, the wombats and warblers, the blowfish and crustaceans. We’d get sunburnt exploring tide pools and pet the spines of sea urchins in the palms of our hands. We’d take a cooking class on a cliff overlooking the sea. We’d gather edible moss and mushrooms and rescue ladybugs. We’d dig into our pioneering spirits, access our Darwinian ruggedness, hike up volcanoes to see the crystalline lakes cradled at the top. 

And now on the screen, cyclones were ripping across torched earth. Temperatures were soaring. Large swaths of savanna had gone up in flames. Entire biomes were gone. Billions of animals had been killed. NASA was reporting that they could see the fires from space. 

Marrell set a cup of tea in front of me. She put a hand on my shoulder. She said, it’s sad, isn’t it. She told me a group of women were coming to the house tomorrow to knit sweaters for the Aussie lambs. She showed me her phone. There were tiny baby lambs swaddled in cable knit sweaters, the designs in the wool like thick braids of hair. Marrell said she’d seen the request for sweaters on Facebook. The drought had left many lambs motherless. There wasn’t enough grazing land, and with all the ewes dying off, there weren’t enough surrogates to nurse all the babes left behind. They had to be bottle-fed by the farmers. There was a whole movement out there. Women from Nepal and Bolivia and the Carolinas were knitting sweaters and shipping them to the farmers in Australia to keep the lambs warm in the absence of their mothers. Marrell showed me a video that made me think of Fantasia, tiny lambs trotting around like parades of unicorns in sweaters that were fuchsia, aquamarine, magenta, chartreuse. I thought of those tiny weak lambs, swathed in sweaters knitted by women all over the world, covered in the coats of unrelated ewes. I thought how magnificent that was. How foolishly magnificent to decorate and warm an entire country of lambs destined to become ploughmans’ lunches.


One of the homes my mother used to clean belonged to a famous professor at a university. He was a venerated scholar of the Mesozoic Era and had appeared on the History Channel and National Geographic. You could tell he was rich because of the Hopi tapestries that hung on his living room walls, the way the art deco tiles in the kitchen were stenciled all the way up to the stamped metal ceiling. He kept salamanders and beheaded flounder in quart jars on shelves in the dining room. My mother paid me two dollars to dust them with mens’ socks. In his basement, he prepped for Y2K with batteries and cigarettes and rice. He stowed wads of cash away inside a Winchester gun safe.

The most striking thing he owned was a skeleton. One Saturday he was home working in his study when my mother and I arrived to clean. Normally he was out golfing. When clients were around, there was no fun. No sneaking handfuls of goldfish from the pantry, no trying on pearls and heels under the chandelier of a master bedroom closet. The professor came into the dining room where I was dusting glass beakers with fungi floating in glycerol. He pointed through the archway at the skeleton that hung from the coiffed ceilings of his study. Would you like to know where that came from, he said. Have you ever seen anything like that monster? He told me it was a trophy that he had won at auction in Miami. It was a baby tyrannosaur that had been excavated from the Great Plains. Leonardo DiCaprio had been there bidding, too. It was sensational. The biggest rush, to be able to bid on a prehistoric monster like that.

I thought about that skeleton later, and about my work in the museum, the dinosaurs that dangled from the rafters like puppets on strings. I wondered if the bones of humankind would one day be welded together and suspended in atriums, ogled at by whatever creatures resurrected themselves from the ground. They would excavate our landfills and erect museums dedicated to the anthropology of our waste. Do you see these things that used to roam the earth, they’d say. Do you see these things called humans. Here is the lumbar. Here is the tibia. Here is the mandible. They used to be so beautiful, these humans. You would not believe how they advanced themselves toward extinction. You would not believe the carnage.




author Ashley Hand smiles at the cameraAshley Hand is a service academy graduate and spent her career as a military officer deploying around the world. She left the military in 2018 to pursue an MFA at Cornell University. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, The Iowa Review, West Branch, and elsewhere. She currently lives and writes in upstate New York, where she is at work on her first novel.


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