The Gap

“The heartbreaking gap between the way we were and the way we are…”

Just a book-review excerpt that got me thinking in my post-ending emotions…

Endings and beginnings, and after that and before. The way we were, the way we are, the way we will be. The way I was, the way I am, the way I will be. It’s what I would write about if I were brave enough.

Where in our timeline that gap, those gaps fall… that is what shapes each of our stories. Some look back on the glory days with the most fondness; some cannot even look back, the pain too excruciating. Some realize the missed opportunities; most never do. Regret can infiltrate nostalgia and release its toxins directly into the heart. The way we were, the way we are… sometimes the greatest heartbreak is the lack of gap, when we are static, when we are trapped, when we are still in that situation; it’s what broke me once, realizing decades later, in that inconvenient moment of denial ripped off, raw, it was the same as it always was.

I was trapped for half my life. Of course, no one ever truly is. But we might as well be, for the layers of boulders we submit to, allowing ourselves to be entombed. For me, I ironically stayed for my children, for if we left, I would have to send them back regularly without me. I chose to never let them be without me as their protector. I was aware of the light fading from the start, as I finally gave in to the vows. I saw the single sun ray through the avalanche the whole time. I chose not to move the rocks.

The way we were, the way I was… I look back on her now sometimes. Through windows. The one-way rainy panes of pain. I wish I could reach her. To let her know about today, who we are now. I know she will never lose faith, but oh those years… so many…. Yet, it simply is true: who we are now, we could never be, if we weren’t the way we were then. If I had the power to spare her, I don’t think I would. Well, maybe I would. To think she could have known happiness all those years…

In my late forties now, I have only just begun to become who I am. The way I am… it is the present. I could never be me until now. You never can be, I don’t think, without self-love. And you really have to be free first for that to happen. I honestly never really had the time or energy for myself; all I knew was survival mode. Crisis mode. Selfless mode. Sickness mode. There are always genuine pieces of us intact through that all though, I feel. Our souls that predate our mortal lifespan. The girl in the panes… she doesn’t realize. She just doesn’t. She and I are so different. Yet, we are the same. I feel myself still in her. The soul. The dreams she is loosening her grip on, yet always retaining fierce faith.

Sometimes, we deteriorate from the way we were. We chase what we think is happiness but always open our arms and hands to find nothing there. We keep chasing. We are still empty and our time is up. Or we succumb to the tomb. We had it once and lost it. We will never reach for that ray and remove the first rock. For others like me, all we have known is the rock cell. My story does not begin at birth. My life is just now starting. My future… well, I am confident that I will devote part of it to searching for such self-tombs, removing a rock from each. I think there is a universal rule that one is the limit. The rest must be done from the inside. I think I have found my way though, whispering, singing, and dropping notes faithfully through those single rays. And I wouldn’t know about these tombs without the experiences I’ve had. I visit my own from my past, and release a butterfly within; I feel his hand then slide into mine, and his sunset-silhouetted kiss in what I’ve come to know as love, makes my own flutter up inside. Again.

“We’re going to be more than alright,” I whisper to my past self through the hole. Then we head to his old tomb before heading home. Through the gap, in hand, we see my poem.

Reflection Deception

What is it about nature’s reflections
that draw us in and entrance us; 
just the optical illusion,
or is there more to it
beneath the surface?

I stand divided between
what is and is not:
truths entombed in deceptions
guarded by ghostly asps
with venomous tongues.

One side, firm footing,
the other, a gator-bait splash;
demons and sirens playing
shamelessly dirtier
the more questions I ask. 

Round and round, I turn it, 
but things buried,
whether in water or sand,
seem to keep moving 
the markers and the X,

the mines I’ve mapped, the chests
not to be raised, unearthed.
Where to step next
I become again unsure. 

I just kept walking
that endless plank;
cautiously, even fearfully, forward
was still movement until 
courage could team up with faith. 

Then, your truth-whispers came,
along with your hand
and patience and dedication,
and allowed me to finally walk safely,
either and any way,
even on that water,
with confidence,
with our combined

strength.

Now, for you, dear friend,
please allow me to do the same.

Poem and images ©LauraDenise

Out of Season

Determined to counter the moody clouds
others have been attempting to cast onto me,
I choose to seek out the sun, spring-infuse myself,
dip my soul into the fresh-blooming green,

breathe in the revitalizing April air,
let the warming rays seep in through my pores,
absorbed more in the whole of the reborn panorama than
focused on the details imploring to be explored, 

labrador-blue heeler happy for any outdoor adventure, 
not a hike but a mutually restorative leisurely linger, 
ahhh…a new season…

Circling back to the start, back to the car, 
I am not allowed to leave, it seems, 
until Mother Nature imparts
a lesson, whispers words of wisdom 
through some not-new, refusing-to-be-forgotten
leaves from two seasons ago, 
still here, and starkly so, 
weathered, fossilized autumn,

a reminder of the past
not so easily dismissed;
buried or not, it insists
on revisits,
coming to you
if you neglect it, 
but what we make
of what is, 
that is the endless work
or blessing
depending on the nature
of what was–
bright, shiny yellow
of yesterday
against the conglomerate
of rocks, man-manipulated
into asphalt,
a yellow sickness
or stubborn
fading sun,
either way the marring,
tattered edges and holes,
do not seem to take the whole,
still here despite the winter
with a fortitude to witness,
to reunite with the green 
it was itself once.

I see a reminder that
we can turn
our back on the past
and run to spring,
but all seasons remain, 
never really leave,
inside us always
are the memories,
tears of joy and loss,
the scars of life;
we can embrace it all, 
co-exist in peace
with all that is inside. 

I choose to find 
the positive,
even in the stumbling 
upon the past
in my determined
celebration of the
present moments,
all presents indeed,
and then I find a smile
in the concrete
when I see
yet another unexpected
chapter of a
love story,
so pure and yet to be
complete…

I wonder what those
resigned to defeat see.
Perception can sting
regardless, some things
we simply must feel
but perspective…
that is the key
in our control
and possession,
a powerful tool we
can self-weld and
self-wield,
manipulate,
to preserve
our internal
peace.

Poem and images ©LauraDenise

Holding Photographs

nostalgia bittersweet
joy so genuine, effortless
radiating, echoing
from fading photographs

touched, held between
ringless fingers and the fumes
of a heart on empty
from the moment
so distantly removed

time does not warp
those precious instances
forever suspended
feelings will flutter on
thousands of centuries

bittersweet for the bliss
is eternally retrievable
but if the present is less
then the tears
breach suppressible

falling is the gravity
of sadness, all rain
nature running its course
to cleanse the panes

we simply must
adjust the frames
order the montages
strategically arrange

so when we step back
to take in the collective
the rainbow across
our present
gets light-refracted

As Me

“I do not ever want you
to stop being you. Please,”
you said to me, 
as you always do, 
but this time,
finally,
you got through

after such patience
in teaching me
how to love 
myself
and never once
being anything
but kind 
and understanding
as I repeatedly 
fell 

on my face,
tripping over
how unnecessarily
 x      l     m     c
     e     p      o 
I insist on making
everything
with this
overthinking.

It seemed
nothing I could do
could turn you away, 
you love me as me
you would just
repeatedly and
unconditionally
say.

Behavior is learned
and unlearned –
patterns of thinking
broken and made,
strategies 
for slaying
or keeping
the ghosts
at bay.

My fears
rooted in
shifting terrains,
unable to be grasped, 
somehow you managed
one by one
by one
to vanquish 

with your insistence
that I just give up
and be me;
the biggest fear
of them all 
you conditioned 
me to release
by showing
in your every word
and deed

I would not only be
completely accepted
but also loved deeply
for simply being

who I am. 

I finally concede. 
I will love me too
as me. 

Poem and images ©LauraDenise

The Past In Your Palm

Natural beach tangleballs
messily woven with care;
the tides tidy the past,
clean up the yesteryears,

least-cherished experiences
ready for burial but not at sea,
rejected from the ocean
to keep the present clean.

From the depths, the debris
from storms and dune erosion
get collected and rolled like snowballs
and returned to the shores,

sand burial for these non-treasures
heavy in the chest
that successfully sunk
but then resurrected.

Inspect it, if you can,
at this time of the future,
the mess and the once unbearable
now so compacted,

once thrashed about
then captured by the dark and deep,
now in your palm, non-crystal ball
looking back controlledly–

the imagined lines and ropes
and exoskeletons of past selves shed,
the stench of rotten wounds
and splinters of the shipwrecks,

all detailed in
the collection of symbols,
the litter of your old life
ready for respectful burial. 

img_3118

Dig the hole
in sand or dirt,
and if so desired,
place a marker on it,

then walk back to the water
and submerge yourself:
the present is clear,
and blissful is this
new soothing swell. 

Poem and images ©LauraDenise

Sea Dance

Barefoot atop the deep waters,
white dress and wild tresses flowing,
sunken-ship cemetery of the past beneath,
I twirl in this present moment. 

The sea is mine
as my dance floor,
and I skim across 
to my pick of shores;
I explore, I vacation, 
not searching, just jubilation
of losing
worries and fears,
exaltation of the lightness
of the lifting of those stormy years,
each moment an eternity
to get to the next,
each stepping stone
sinking with each vine grasped,
no beanstalk discovered
to bring me to the clouds,
only faith each day
for decades
of a better tomorrow.

That tomorrow is today,

hence the head-raised dance
in the sun and in the rain,
embracing with wide-opened arms
the achievement of having started
upon this horizon
I only viewed from the beach.

The stepping stones still sink.
I just realized the only missing factor
was to fully 

believe.

They were never needed. 
Self-love was the only key.

I was always worth it. 
Eventually, I fought
for me
and this
dream.

Poem and image ©LauraDenise

Tides of Time

Walking alone, 
even his ghost
has abandoned you,
single footprints
in sand and snow
from a boy 
to a man, 
lost truths.

Upon the phantasmal shores, 
you wander, fists raised;
tears cannot erase what never was.

Your own steps become weighted,
the prints deep, breaking ground,
and through the land, you begin to drown. 

Sand turns to ice, entombing half-alive.
Only one hand to reach for, but you decide
it may be better to meet your demise;
you will not fall for that sick illusion again. 

You feel the grip upon your wrist, 
the voice you unjustly cannot place, 
the face barely recognizable
from that one old photo faded.

Raised from the dark, cold hole,
no words exchanged from the one who showed
you only who not to be, whose gap in your identity
made you the man and father and husband
adored, esteemed.

He proceeds to leave. It’s what he does.
One moment in time. Two backs turned.
Decades of hurt. Never-a-grand with regrets.
“Dad..” you choke out. He turns with a tear. 

“I forgive you.”

He nods and once again disappears.
You head to the car, never turn back to witness
two lightly-imprinted sets of footsteps.

Inside Clouds

Dense fog advisory. Dark, early Saturday morning. Mild temperatures. A perfect time to… head to the beach! I make my coffee to go.

I love fog and mist, as I do rain and thunderstorms…something about the mood of this kind of weather invigorates my soul. It is another clue in the discovery of my own inner roots, another clue in the direction to go, to finally arrive at home, that place my soul has always tugged me toward. I have come to co-exist with this spiritual restlessness.

As I make the short drive to the bridge, I am fascinated by the “disappearance” of the familiar land and ocean across the bay, parallel to the road. If I didn’t know it existed, it would seem that this was where the flat earth simply ended, the beyond, inaccessible yet really only veiled by the fog, like El Dorado or Atlantis. But I do know it exists, and I take the bridge into the clouds…

I am obsessed with clouds, so I suppose it is no wonder that the ones reaching down to embrace me call to me. It is a strange sort of adrenaline to me to be on a bridge in a cloud; even though I know by heart what surrounds, it is simply “not there” now, and it is “just me” (why I love early mornings) in this bizarre reality. 

I was hoping to experience the phenomenon I’ve only driven by before: when the fog hovers above the bay. That is not the case today, so I am a bit disappointed and walk to the ocean side. My soul is thrilled, though, to immediately see the lone fisherman: it is another clue about my timeless soul, the comforting spiritual connection I feel observing (or reading poems about) fishermen and remote fishing villages. I ponder again if I may be part mermaid after all. 

A few steps in, I lose vision, my eyesight becoming foggy itself from the sea mist upon my glasses. I will have to look for treasures and take photos partially blind, but always finding the adventure and the positives, I embrace the challenge. It seems more fitting anyway, to have even blurrier vision in the fog; it doesn’t make much of a difference really. For a bit, though, coffee thermos in hand, I sit in the silky white sand and just exist, me and the lone fisherman, phantoms in the mist… I love the coast on days like this, too early or in unfavorable conditions when I can have the world to myself. The fisherman was here first though, an indigenous ghost representing generations of past fishermen lining the coast and not-lost at sea. When the local residents begin their descent on the paved horizon, I will take my leave and return to my bird sanctuary, the lot that contains my abode, never quite a home, though it’s still my favorite place to retreat to.

I find it senseless to come to the sea if you do not at least dip your feet into the magical waters; I am surprised that the water temperature delivers no jolt of briskness. I let the waves wash over my polish-chipped, never-manicured toes, my capris get soaked…oops, but oh well. I walk for a while in the surf, feeling the gentle ebb and flow, benevolent nudges to and fro, the pull teasing, seemingly luring back into the benevolent parts of the deep; I look at my feet, but no tail is morphing.

Back upon the smooth sand-slate, I stoop low to inspect sea-strewn debris and treasures, and I think the difference is truly in the clichéd eye-of-the-beholder; I always favor the forgotten and discarded. I listen with genuine interest to the stories dripping with lessons of the “broken” shells, let them also feel a touch, too often only stepped around and upon, at best inspected and tossed back, seashell hunters looking for “the perfect” ones, visibly whole, sometimes even shunning all and purchasing faux.

I do hold one of those “perfect” formations, though its plainness probably makes it unseen. What I notice most is our prints, and I compare and ponder the non-insignificance, silent lifelines that brand us, as non-related species of different trees, yet neither with roots. We are both free. Both molded with love from the same Creator. Our prints, non-replicable, keep us entirely unique yet give us away, register as “identity,” though no print-reader can ever know me, as none can know the secrets of the story-keepers of the sea.

I get lost for a while in a different time and place, lost in the intriguing details and textures in the muted colors in the calcified, granulated, and liquified elements about me. The wall of a ripple, individual drops, each frothy bubble that comprise the vast ocean collide and linger on a partial sand dollar, and I think to myself how priceless are the macromoments…

Next, I happen upon the jackpot. Or graveyard. Or castaway club. Or secret congregation. Or paradigm peaceful, diversity-infused community. No fog when viewed up close, no excuse of unjust obstruction of revelation, even preconceived notions rinsed with salt-water solution. It all comes down to perception. Yet what we see…how much of our past experiences still renders us blind, keeps our perspective shrouded?

The large beach tangleballs tossed about I can easily “see” without my glasses on, but it is not until I inspect them up close that I realize what is entangled. I see my past. Debris, skeletons, corpses, clutter that the waves of time have purposely weaved and wrapped up and expelled from the waters in its natural self-cleaning process. In my palm, I can hold it all, after the fact. It seemed so large and heavy at the time I experienced each symbol artifact. Droplets of seawater evidence this present expulsion, not even dry yet. Have I added just now to it with this cleansing morning coastal visit?

I take my time on this walk through nirvana, sand grains sparkling like crushed diamonds, priceless like the partial sand dollar, the dusted-jeweled surface soft as sugar with the clouds kissing the surface of earth. I think I see forever, though nothing is clear. I am thankful that what’s behind me has also disappeared. In this muted moment, I feel the celestial peace.

Perhaps limbo is not what we think, for I wish to be suspended for some time in this world of in-between. In between my past and future, in between reality and dreams, in between the highs and lows, snuggled in between these muted sheets where time itself lullaby-sings through the sound waves of the sea. I half expect to see holy spirits from the past and future; I would not be scared for such an encounter. There is no fear here, no extreme emotions, just the sweet, soothing serenity, the peace I knew existed. I wonder if we can take it back with us, have it emanate from our pores, after walking in the clouds so close to heaven’s door, no bright light in sight upon these non-printed, angel-visited shores.

All words and images ©LauraDenise