Cycloptic serpent scorched deep into my being, color of decay not even attempting to camouflage into my resilient green, laying eggs, disease breeding, growing larger, but still unable to see, for at my core is also my heart, and it bleeds in light. You try to grow more eyes, but this love inside will always render you blind, not Karma but what is right finally for I have falsely seen too clearly all my life
The exorcist has arrived: self-love. Parasite, good final bye.
That unexpected drop we don’t see coming. It’s one thing when you are watching your footing, placing your soles carefully around the eggshells, having been conditioned, trained, skilled, at moving around in this on-guard, defensive way. It’s another when you’ve just started to have confidence in the spring in your step upon trusted ground. I was outdoors, in my favorite place, when it happened this last time.
A trap pre-set by a predator disguised as a friend. Another very unexpected fall. No problem. I’m used to it. I know what to do. It’s all very logical. Except when I go to grab onto the root to begin the climb, it opens another hole. I unexpectedly drop again. I reach, I lift myself, I lift myself, I reach for the wrong root again and another hole opens… I don’t understand these. They come from deep within my own self. These were not set by him. There is no logic; I’ve tried every pattern. Eventually, I make it out.
And then another pit sends me plummeting.
I’m thinking about these pitfalls today, sitting upon a rock in a favorite dress on a beautiful day, revisiting the scene, the trap pre-set especially for me. I find myself thinking the all-too-familiar question for each of us, so universal, so personal: why me?
I honestly do feel I should have been spared by my higher power. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve done my time. With Trauma. But what sense of entitlement and special treatment is that? Not to mention the whole free-will clause which others can use to interfere with my own hard work and desires.
So I do now reflect on the possible reasons. Does God have yet another lesson for me to learn, yet another trial to overcome? How strong does He want me to be?! And why?… When I think of this, I do not feel like a victim; there is very little woe is me. I actually get a bit excited that He is preparing me for big things. Like I am a chosen one. And if ever I were to be in training or to serve, I would definitely want it to be for Him! I feel empowered. I feel an ego I never thought I had. I always thought I was selfless to a fault.
I did it. I think. Again. I’ve lost, yet won. Are you proud of me, God?
I think, too, about how much I have control of and how much I don’t. I know how we react is everything, our miseries often self-induced, self-perpetuated, the way we keep ourselves trapped and prisoners; we look down sometimes and see the cuffs and chains are unlocked, and we scramble to re-secure them. Why?
Is it all fear?
If so, are we really trusting God is with us, sees what is ahead? We cannot get there if we keep re-locking ourselves when He keeps setting us free.
My past is my past. I have freed myself from it. I must shake the dungeon dust fully off. Perhaps that is the purpose of these new wings.
I feel the breeze of your and His love…
Thank you for always believing in me.
I suppose with wings, these pitfalls can no longer sink me; I’ll keep my eyes forward in these skies and focused on the portals to my dreams.
May I never lose my way to getting lost, may I never resist the urge to leave it all, may I never shelter my face from the storm, may I never let my arms fall in the downpour, may I never fully wash off the grit of the sand, and may I never be restrained by clock or human hand.
May I never negotiate with my soul: may I never let anyone close the window.
I have always been drawn to intimacy, that of the petal, the shell, the bee. Grand, sweeping panoramic views have trouble impressing me. Everyone else lines up though to see, so I release the guilt to the benevolent breeze while I sneak away from my party after posing in their pictures to get low upon the mountain surface to hear the gentle, pink, silky whispers.
My first two vacation poems of the same subject, the world-renowned postcard as a blurred backdrop. You can take a body to a different location, but you cannot take control of a soul’s vocation, especially when it is spiritually connected more so to the underfoot details overlooked and neglected.
The stories of nature that fit in the palm of my hand speak to me more profoundly than the grandest canyon. I have never been one to follow the crowds. The bold mountaintop bloom whispers another route.
I cannot take it now: my father is guiding this tour. But I will never forget the brief shared encounter
with the single wildflower
that found me in the clouds and allowed me to recenter myself.
Natural material but man-constructed walls me in instead of fences, I breathe best in more open spaces. Wildflower ascends, climbs up the border – two-by-fours frame her bold yet soft colors, star-shaped for a reason, skyward bound, rooted in treason, restrained by seasons – toward freedom, back to the wild shunning the restrictions they keep trying to place upon her style.
I will follow, eventually, perhaps at the end of the lease.
When my son last visited, he played this song a lot on our Bluetooth speaker while he and his girlfriend and my daughter stayed up all hours playing board games (while I tried to sleep in the master suite of the ranch on the other side of the door). It’s a song he really feels, like the movie. At the first notes, when it comes on the radio now when he is not present, I immediately change it. To “control” my sadness. I try to avoid thinking about him and his sadness and his addiction, him as Bradley Cooper in the movie. It just hurts too much.
It was the mention of the movie and allusion to the song in passing on social media that stemmed this writing spree in me though. I connected with a fellow English teacher-poet on Instagram where I usually just post and go without actually socializing. I am one to put a song on repeat for hours, for days, to feel, to lose myself in the zone, to somewhere it seems I am being led, but only hitting repeat on max volume on my earbuds and a lot of patience simply lingering at the portal is necessary. To let myself feel without thinking for once. For a long while…
I listened to the soundtrack while sweating through yard work. Then I watched the video… and cried. What a sad movie. One of his favorites, of course. I could never remove the movie from myself now. I didn’t know that that Instagram post I “ran across” by someone I did not yet “follow” would lead me here, to pouring out prose, whether or not I post it or lock it up. I knew it was going to mean something though. I believe strongly in paths crossing for reasons.
I need this. To let my fingers fly free across the keyboard in prose again. To feel the release that comes from that and also through music.
I connect the most in songs to the non-words, the soul eruptions that exceed alpha-translation. That is what pain and love is, after all. And the fall. For me, it is the rise of the wailing “uhs” and “ohs,” and in voices like Lady Gaga’s and Calum Scott’s (“Dancing On My Own”).
In “Shallow,” that point is the moment of free fall. And free fall… could end or not end in a limited number of ways, albeit in limitless places, could be initiated or not initiated for so many reasons, could be the beginning or the end. For me, regarding all of this, it is that push to the edge at the end of my marriage, when I could no longer breathe, and my panic-attacked heart raced as if it were going to give out once and for all. The 2:42 point of no return is when I leapt, screaming on the way down that I have had all I could take, not being able to see the bottom, leaping entirely with the final no-turning-back point of faith, faith I would crash through the mirage of the surface into the “anything more than this.”
I am happy to report, it was the best jump I ever made. The one that saved me. I didn’t want to have wings. I just wanted to crash through it to the other side. Full speed. Once and for all.
I am also keenly aware that others feel that same desperateness and take the leap to leave this life altogether. The song’s narrator makes it clear she will never meet the ground though. I feel a need and calling to string nets for every jumper off course. So they are forced back up and can only pass through the same portal as me and her, only with faith and courage. In the more that is here in this life.
May angels escort each at the edge. To safety. To life.
Because I have the amazing blessing of deciding how I fill my day. What a gift. What freedom. What power. What will I select from the generous menu to construct this day?
First, I choose mental and emotional peace. What brings me balance? Writing. Nature. God. Companionship. I have all of those at hand daily and indulge in them all daily. The absence of any one throws me off my axis. In the absence of a significant other, I am full from the companionship of a dear friend.
Second, I choose work. Whether it’s my paid career or just the endless chores to maintain a small home and large yard, I need to be productive, contribute, do good work and feel good about the results.
Errands and personal business matters on the other hand…YUCK! I despise that. I always procrastinate and dread adulting in those matters. Maybe it’s the creative in me that is tortured by such free-spirit-sucking monotonous tasks. I’ll clean my own house, do my own yardwork, but for sure would hire a personal assistant for that other stuff. Including shopping of any kind. (Shudder.)
After internal stability and productive work, I need to fill my heart daily with love and laughter. I am a lover by nature, so that is not hard. A little cuddling of a pup, a little interaction with humans I love, a little reading of heartstring-pulling writing, and I’m full.
Laughter is tricky, too easy to forget to add. You usually need another for that (even when I crack myself up, it comes from messaging a friend). You need another to make you laugh, whether on hand in person or digitally or from something funny created by another: memes, jokes, humorous writing, sitcoms, etc. Laughter is simply one of the best parts of life. Let’s never forget to put effort into including it!
Well, those are the morning thoughts. Today is a new day. I can largely make it what I want it to be. Thank you, God, for that gift and blessing and freedom and power. I hope I am making you proud by becoming, embracing, loving who you made me, who you made me to be.
I’m off to start my yard work. Make it a great day, readers!
(☝️From my picture quotes I used to do. That’s my daughter, when she was younger. 💕)
Many specific, powerful moments have I captured at the beach, with and without a lens, that live in me so vividly, there to be called upon on a whim whenever I need them. Two of these are my images “Pigeon on the Pier” and “Sunflowers in the Sand,” their lessons, how they resonated with me, similar.
I grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and started my own family there. In city parks, pigeons are popular, as well as those sitting on benches feeding them. City pigeons are what I had always known. They were standard and expected in my world. They had their place. They were common, not viewed as anything spectacular or especially beautiful by others.
Many years later, on a visit to the Gulf shores of Florida, I came upon the same type of pigeon on an ocean pier.
It stunned me with unexpectedness. A pigeon at the beach? I never heard of or imagined such a thing. There was only one, hanging out with the traditional seabirds, sitting on the pier railing. Its colors, illuminated by the unobstructed sun, against the backdrop of the sea’s blues and greens and white-capped waves and the aquahorizon blending into the endless blue sky, were truly spectacular, the most beautiful and striking bird on the pier.
So deliberately and boldly out of place, shattering preconceived notions, limitations, stereotypes. This pigeon was free, beyond cage, beyond park, beyond fear. It was deeply inspirational, motivational. A “city” pigeon with feathers caressed by the salty sea breeze. Of course, in my mind, I spun a whole story about it, how it defied and transcended expectations, went its own way, flew the coop, against the flock, followed dreams deemed foolish and unattainable, highly discouraged by other feathered friends and family. This pigeon heard of another place over the rainbow or simply believed in one with no such evidence, a place where it knew it had to reach, a place where it knew it belonged.
I wondered if it now called this place home, or if it had more unknowns to explore. Years later, that pigeon on the pier would very personally resonate with me even more…
Another sight that mesmerized me was a patch of sunflowers growing out of the sand along a short boardwalk that led to the sea.
Another out-of-place image that struck me, shook my preconceived notions of what is expected to be and not to be. Flowers can grow without soil? Have I lived such a sheltered and naïve life that I didn’t know that was possible? Sure, the sea oats grew tall and majestic from the sand, but such a well-known flower so far away from gardens and fields? Its deep green leaves and signature golden-burst blossoms were such a stark contrast, like the pigeon’s colors, against the muted hues of the seashore. It too seemed to be making a bold statement, had a story.
The sunflowers in the sand reminded me of young childhood thinking in the time of innocence and uninhibited creative thinking before all of the influences that seem to dissolve such wonderful early notions of coloring suns green and the grass purple, of coloring outside of the lines, all before we were told… Told what? What were the words spoken, yelled, whispered that changed and molded a notion, a belief, a mind, a child, a nation? What was the guidance? What word-seeds planted, and what did they grow? What fertilizer in lieu of seeds, and what did it kill?
For a while, for a period of my adulthood, I responsibly packed up the unrealized dreams, the unfulfilled fantasies. Once a creative colorer, a young artist, an older painter of grandiose possibilities, I laid down the crayons and paints, crumbled up more and more of my drawings, on paper and canvas and medialess in my mind, my aging heart. Some paths I chose seemed permanently outlined, with me trapped on the inside of those lines, now without my coloring tools. Trapped in the book, a pigeon in a cage, a sunflower seed eaten, not planted.
Eventually, though, something inside me made me finally reach. For the latch, for that crayon. I am now the pigeon on the pier, the sunflower in the sand.