Ashley Ruderman 

Explain the ocean to your summer job

When you work 
at a used book 
shop you learn 

that the tarot 
cards are kept 
behind the counter. 

It is “understood” 
that stealing
preserves a deck’s

magic and, well, 
lets just say 
this fact is like 

selling the rain
to Oregon. 
A paying customer 

tells you
no one worth
their sea salt in card

reading would risk
the karma attached
to theft and you

are left behind
the counter, reminded 
that a steelhead 

is nothing but a trout 
that goes to sea—
the cards can 

predict this but
the ocean
keeps shuffling.


Ashley Ruderman grew up in Eugene, Oregon, and attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. She left the Pacific Northwest to earn her MA in English Literature at the University of Kentucky. Prior to The Twenty, she had no Kentucky roots. She now considers herself lucky to be a member of such a vibrant writing community.  


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