Hollow - Uncharted


By Ashley Wilda

Here’s what I have learned.

The holes don’t go away, but something else moves in.

You’ve been hollowed out, a cracked

oak yanked wide

open by unyielding, unforgiving hands,

They don’t care what they break as they

scoop out the most precious, spongy

part of you

and squeeze.

As the footsteps fade,

and the ache deepens

you wonder what is left of you.

You wonder and you wonder and all

you can do is sip cool life into your roots

in tiny unbearable spurts

until you stop shriveling into nothing

and hold steady.

Here’s the thing they don’t tell you:

The holes don’t go away, but something else moves in—

if you let it.

You have a choice not to let it.

You have a choice to remember that spongy

beating heart and remember how

alive and wondrous and


it is.

You have a choice. And that choice,

It isn’t wrong.

But… if you let it die. When you know

for good and true, love

has forgotten you.

When you let the wind kiss and echo

through that hollow in the center of

everything that makes you,



Then, perhaps,

something else can ask for permission

just for a moment, to try that space.

To see how it


To see how

the echo of loss muffles when a

breathing thing sits quietly

ruffling its feathers in contented

silence. To just


Sit and see… sit and

feel how the air warms

and the silence sweetens,

sit and see what happens

when you let an unrepairable wound


Be… can you bear it—


And soon… so slowly soon

in a long slow blink

you realize

you can’t imagine breathing

without this new, beautiful

equally breakable thing nestled

in the center of everything

that once was.

The hole didn’t go away.

But something else—

something else made it home.

And so, here

we are


About the Author

Ashley Wilda is a writer living in eastern Virginia. They particularly enjoy writing young adult fiction and poetry but love reading any work whose words sing and whisper magic to the reader. Their debut novel The Night Fox, a YA magical realism tale written in poetry and prose about mental health and nature, was published in 2023 with Penguin Random House, and her following YA contemporary novel, Cleave, will be published by Penguin in 2026. They hold an MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. In addition to writing, they love rock climbing, exploring the mountains, creating art, and adventuring with their husband, Ethan, and rescue pup, Phoenix. Find Ash on Instagram: @ashleywilda_ or at www.asheywilda.com.

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