Second Apiering

Tide flows, 
tide ebbs, 
changing, hiding, 
revealing the edges
of division.

I watch
the transitions,
half dream-drifting,
half paying
detail-attention.

Always thinking. 

I ponder on 
the ebb and flow, 
how one takes
and the other gives
in its rhythmic dance
to and fro

and how taking
can also be
giving, 
and giving be
taking,
and for each,
the difference 
is in the
seeking and releasing.

We send bottled messages
afloat, hopeful for
its accurate delivery
and offer what we desire
for burial at sea;

we collect treasures
and look for clues
from gods and mermaids
Destiny-strewn.

I notice in the wet sand
in between surf’s blanketing,
a secret passageway, 
a ladder to dreams,

unless, of course, 
it’s an evil illusion,
a detour or trap
set by opposing forces.

I wonder
how much 
is serendipity
and divine intervention
verses taking control
and free will’s actions,

if choosing the evanescent
option not on the maps
is a test of fortitude
or foolish brassiness.

Another option,
nonetheless, is presented:
two piers to walk,
but only one may
have no end. 

Poem and images by Laura Denise

Bridges and Piers

Sunset-lit pier
fades from focus
as the miniature shell-bridge
draws me closer

and gets me thinking…

about what we extend
in our reach to connect, 
and what we retract
when we fear-react,

and all that’s gained
and lost from the taking
and passing of chance,
from the courage 
to not or to
act, 

and how far the distance
can be misjudged from perspective,
and in the grand scheme of things, 
how important it is,

and how often we miss 
and what we learn
when we look up
or bow our heads
to discern 

the difference. 

Poem and image ©LauraDenise

Wishes and Prayers

When I pray, 
I always add the addendum,
“…if it is in accordance with Your plan,”
for more than what I plea for,
superseded, I wish for us to remain
always in His hands.

I trust whatever may happen,
although I may not understand,
will come with a needed lesson,
a necessary occurrence in the process
of the destiny in becoming once again 

who I am. 

I was reminded of this
when a partial wishie lent
further wisdom for reflection.

Sometimes the biggest wishes
should not be spent, eyes closed, 
all at once, in one breath and direction

but patiently 
spaced out in seeds,
part self-initiated action,
part angel-breath breezes. 

Sometimes what we desire most
needs time to germinate to non-perfection
and be released in parts for better chances
of fruitful multiplication. 

I am always careful 
in what I wish and pray for:
I don’t want to get in the way
of what He has in store. 

I try not to be too cautious 
in taking action with soulful instinct,
for the surest way to get lost
is to pass up what He hands me. 

I do close my eyes 
to bring up a whisper
from my soul
that launches another
seed of hope… 

Poem and image ©LauraDenise

Rider

Illusion of control, 
I never really drove, 
not on a road trip
of my own;
I rode
round and round, 
hair in the breeze,
holding on to the mane
of carousel dreams, 
never free. 
Now I am.
But the invisible reins
of pleasing so long
keeps me stalled
in the corral;
my voice on auto-pilot
agreeing with everyone else. 
A passenger yet.
I sit quietly 
still looking out
the windows.
But in the rearview mirrors,
I frame my favorite parts, 
and up ahead in the near distance,
I see the peaks 
of my heart’s desires. 
I think I am ready
to take the wheel
while listening to nature
on God’s behalf appeal
to my soul, that home, 
I’ve carried all along.
I only needed to use my voice
to steer to where
I belong. 
I will need to put it in park
for the final leg,
so I can ride bareback
on my stallion 
away from all of them… 

Poem and images ©LauraDenise

The Tiller

Trust in the shadows;
they are benevolent too,
dimming the wrong ways
so the beacon may shine through.

Listen for the truth;
it whispers faithfully through the gale.
Turn your back to the blustery lies;
the bitterest of winds best fill the sails.

You don’t need a map
for an evacuation route;
just follow the signs
He’s already laid out.

He knows all,
including what’s up ahead.
Listen for The Light;
drown out the ghost voices
haunting your head.

You took the steps.
You left that land.
These turbulent waters
will lead to the end

of that decades-long storm
that shredded every kite you raised
that lightning struck
on its way down
to reiterate
that you will never
be freed from this fate.

But fate was a falsity
and now you will know
that destiny
is all within
your control,

and He wants you to have
all your heart desires.
He will lead you there
through these uncharted waters,

but He wants your hands
on the tiller
to feel
the power you have
that He instills.

He calls upon the winds
and every fin in the sea
to escort you on your voyage to
your chosen dreams.

Poems and photos ©LauraDenise

Monday to Monday

Everything happens for a reason? No, I don’t think so. I hope not. I am not a believer in fate to that extreme. It’s too controlling. If it were truth, I’d personally journey to dethrone those meddling Moirai and take back my life. I’d do it for others too.

Now destiny to me is a whole different matter. Even the word is more beautiful. While fate feels fortune-cookie prescribed, destiny feels like personal potential. Fate’s word origin is “that which has been spoken” whereas destiny’s is “to establish.” One makes me wish to defy and retaliate, though essentially, it would supposedly be futile to do so; at worst, it makes me want to give up, surrender. The other makes me want to keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter the obstacles—in fact, obstacles become welcome and necessary—choosing the paths, to become all that I can be, all that my higher power wishes for me to discover about myself to bring me closer and closer to The Light.

Some things happen for a reason. I absolutely believe in this. That reason being loving, personal, divine intervention, when we are directly presented gifts, even (and perhaps more importantly) obstacles and uneasy feelings. It is these moments that I feel are crucial for our destinies. The choices. The free will.

Monday after work, I seized the day, to ride the wave of what was at the time the merging of a beautiful late afternoon with my good spirits; I headed for the coast (across the street but a 20-minute drive to the National Seashore parking area I opted for rather than the main beach). I just wanted to bank some credit on my emotional health, as this school year for me as a teacher has been the most challenging yet. Usually in my past, I would more likely seek out nature as my medicine upon feeling the first symptoms of mental unwellness, though my soul requires daily doses of the outdoors. I’ve had the photos I took that afternoon in my phone; no particular inspiration came from them during the week. Until now.

Monday again. A holiday. Yet something off within me. I get frustrated with that feeling because I feel I’ve put sooooo much work into my total healing that I deserve to never feel an uncomfortable feeling again. That’s absurd though, I know, and I would probably hate such a boring emotional predictability. I talked to my higher power aloud, as is natural for me. I retracted my request to take these disquieting feelings from me to “unless I am meant to feel them for a purpose because I need to, because you are trying to help me realize something.” I sat down on the couch with my morning coffee (deliberately avoiding my bed) and brought a notebook, as it seemed like a pen-to-paper doodling therapy session might be needed over the digital screen. It’s raining out; I usually love staying home as reader and writer on a rainy day, but for some reason, though I finished reading a novel, my muses for the first time in a couple of years were not around this week. Until now.

Some things happen for a reason.

The only WordPress post I found myself at, Listening to the Reed, was one from the same soul whose music moved me recently. After reading it and thanking her for the inspiration, my typing fingers remembered again how to dance. And what I saw in Monday’s photos became apparent. Funny how it all comes together in magical moments….

Even before the water comes into view, parking lot inspiration captures me as I snap a photo of a stranger, here too, to use her gifts, “alone” in nature. She is me, the poet, the photographer, using different media. She is the musician brushing notes, and although we all seem to speak a different language, our stories, our messages, are all too similar, invisibly thread us together, I am certain. Her silence, my silence, a silent symphony that runs through us both, all. Solitude is not without its benefits. May we become, again and again, blank and empty, for our higher power’s use of us as instruments, as lenses, as canvases. May we share with one another those masterpieces, the instruments being masterpieces themselves. 

The sun is out still; I am thankful to get off work early enough to enjoy it. Sixty degrees on this February pre-evening. I came to this area for the adventure, though I’ve also come in the past for the solitude. I can see the shoreline through the trees; the hike doesn’t begin until I sink deeper into the sand. The view always seems like a long sought after oasis discovery, yet it is always simply before me, so easily accessible. It seems like cheating to start at Paradise. 

The late afternoon rays highlight the remains of a tree. I’ve visited this one before, but the light upon and within is particularly captivating today. The way the tree stands so resolutely, still firmly rooted yet maimed, seems honorable, and I pause to add a moment of silence to the silence. To me, it is a veteran, not fallen but partially sacrificed. I am standing upon the barrier island that protects the mainland, in official wilderness, where the defenders too often are unseen and unappreciated. 

The soft, beautiful light within draws me in further, not deeper but into the world of its complex interior, a secret cavern faithfully harbored, a portal hesitantly opened for the sincere, and I enter with reverence into its still and shallow waters. 

Exposed, I see every feature, every fissure, every shadowed crevice, and the continued sacrifices. I am reminded of Silverstein’s Giving Tree, and it stills me to pay even more homage. 

From inside the sacred sanctuary, the view of the sun seems so much more beautiful, and the Light so personally and tenderly loving. I recall the times, like a week from today, my private, protected, inner self has looked through such deeply-anchored panes. 

I continue on my solo voyage, following the coastline that has changed, and I remember another hurricane has passed through since my last visit. The windblown tree that throws off the perpendicular order with its angle is the first testament that life inevitably alters us. Yet again, I focus on the roots, still buried, that interconnect with others, locking, intertwining, determined to protect, holding the sand itself together. I recall where I was when this happened, a bit inland, in an interior closet with my daughter and dog. I recall prayers to my higher power to turn the powerfully-increasing storm back to sea, not west or east but back, asking to protect us all, in every land. How relevant, yet even more symbolic, are the exposed roots of the great (still) Live Oak I happen upon next… 

I bend down again to inspect the clues without altering the scene, a cracked log, split halfway down the center and not by the axe, reveals the hollow and part of the skeleton within, severed from the tree, no longer adrift, arrived and at rest at its burial place, but not even that is certain. 

Instead of the expected crabs that usually endlessly entertain me here, I find never-encountered peculiar objects and remnants I have yet to identify. Some explorers are quick to Google their finds, but as curious as I am and as much of a lifelong learner as I hope to be, most of the time, I treasure more the mystery, the unexplained, my imagination, the childlike wonder. So much on this excursion is new this time, and I find a peculiar yet not very unsettling eeriness in the lack of both human life and wildlife found anywhere. I continue on, backward or forward in time, I cannot tell, but the present is nowhere about. 

Not-quite-parallel lines, natural elements, hurricane relics, and human footprints all seem to travel in the same direction: along the shore, toward the light. The sound (aptly named) both contributes, discreetly takes away, and smooths again the slate of history. I leave my own temporary tracks, an intermingling legacy, but I sense if I turn around, I may catch Time itself sweeping the evidence away. After all, I am but a visitor in this past or future, and my present is patiently waiting for my return. I press on, though, just a bit more, farther and further away from the portal. 

The sand itself becomes more and more buried beneath the new after-storm covering. The terrain, so foreign-feeling, draws my attention to my every step. Sooner than I wanted, I arrive at the infamous “where the beach ends.”  

This was not the end before though; funny how endings can change. I want to be allowed to pass, to make it to the tree patch where the seabirds often nest. I pause at the obstacle I could surmount if I choose to, but I doubt the wildlife I am looking for is up there this time. It is neither doubt nor fear of the unknown though that propels my pivot but the satisfaction of this leg of my journey today, and my present is one that I am not trying to escape, unlike the pattern of my past. 

In my return journey, as it grows late in the day, I do not light the torch but instead frame the flame between two seemingly scorched matchstick trees. Sometimes a shift in perspective can become a powerful thing. This non-desolate non-wasteland thrives with natural, resilient beauty. We are blessed to witness its offerings. In the absence of our existence, the surf would still play its music, the flower would still bloom, the bird would still sing, though I do believe they prefer to gift us those things. But the green.. the green would gleefully creep out from the earth and revel in its reclamation, stretch its vines and branches and burst forth new leaves and lift itself again to the heavens. 

The clouds begin to rise up, themselves, from the sea, rising up to cradle Sun and gently lower it into the ripples, to extinguish the day’s light. Benevolent Moon will soon fill in so darkness never truly sets in, and stars will adorn the night, to collect our wishes and christen them in the magical moonlit tide.

I hear not the cry of Yeats’ falcon; I see not his sea beast. The only wild creature that crosses my path is the single, silent pelican, wings spread wide, as it soars like a promise of hope into the cloud-misted sunset. 

I was called to the coast on a Monday,
though my core was perfectly intact.
On a rainy day inside me,
it restored my soul on the next. 

Photographer’s note: the only thing I edited in these photos was lightening some of the shadows…

Related by Laura: My Mother is the Beach

Blue Canvas

Upon the blue canvas
of my dreams,
I take hold of a brush
and my destiny.

Having painted atop
a darker past, 
I choose the brightest hues
and happiness.

Never actually fated
to the dead-end path I was on, 
self-shackled, I eventually realized
there were no locks,

and the way I was living
really upset my Father,
but I thought the sacrifices
were what He wanted.

Twice in recent times, I
opened empty fortune cookies;
people said that was such
a foreboding prophecy, 

but I took it to be a deeper message
that I alone must choose my direction,
and I felt a sense of being chosen
and a rush of empowering liberation,

and so I dusted off the bristles 
and am painting now my future;
I know God has a plan for me
but also a part he’s lovingly reserved, 

and what I design on this canvas,
I feel He’ll help me achieve,
for He’s waited so long to have me realize
my own needs,
and all along He’s only wanted
the best for me. 

I take hold of the brush
and firmly, finally begin
to shape my desired reality.

Poem and image ©LauraDenise