Sun Sets on Christmas

In my backyard, I take a few moments to myself after sun sets on Christmas.

I am drawn to the silhouetting branches of a tree and the stars surrounding it and eventually retrieve my camera to play with all the ways I can arrange the composition. I realize again what could be one of the reasons why I am drawn to photography: control.

I, in fact, am moving the stars. Positioning them. I manipulate the light. Later, I can manipulate in even more ways with editing apps.

I have danced with control so many times over the years, I had begun to think I was actually the lead. Control for me, though, never has had anything to do with power, simply the illusion of stabilizing, balancing, the perpetual chaos. Little bits of time. Of moments. Of situations. For survival.

As much as I’ve danced with control, I’ve had affairs with denial. Love-hate relationships. I think denial at times was truly a friend, keeping me afloat. At times, I think a betrayer; I could have stood up in the water that was actually shallow. I could have walked out of the water instead of treading. I could have maybe avoided the future near-drownings.

I am drawn most to putting the star here, cradled between the branches reaching for it.

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My Labraheeler has joined me, and I give in to kicking his ball for a bit, then decide to do a few laps around the half acre. He is used to this and follows beside me, jollily carrying his partially deflated mini basketball. We run, silently in companionship.

The weather is simply beautiful, the kind that the soul takes in as the breezy, summer-like night air is inhaled. I trust I know the yard enough to not trip in the growing darkness and trust my pup enough to not cross my path underfoot; I look up to the sky as my blood extra pumps, and all of me feels refreshed, renewed, freed.

This is peace.

The day was merry, and Christmas Eve too. I can’t recall another Christmas in which it truly was. Last year, I wore the smile, made it through, and then was nearly drowned in my after-tears.

I believe in miracles. And in magic. And in love.

I’ve always held fast to faith over the years, but in that hopeful someday kind of way, struggling to not drink in the devil-potions that would make me question and challenge the unfairness of the situations plaguing me. Only a few years ago did I fully recognize miracles, the direct hand of God at work, the Spirit inside me. I had a merry Christmas. We all did. That was a miracle. I’ve always wanted that. I did not think it possible.

I made Christmas magical and happy for my children when they were younger (with the help of my community most years), but I did so under the immense weight of all that being married to an addict-alcoholic adds. Add the strain of being the peacemaker, the glue, and often the leader of my whole family tree. Heavy. Stressful. Masked. Martyr. Superhero. Weighed. Bending. Cracking. Moth-eaten cape. Suffocating. Hiding. Pretending. Pleasing. Holding in. Suppressing. Swallowing. Denying. Lying. Stretched. Thinner. Thinner. Breaking.

Currently, light, airy, floating, feathered, free. Breathing.

So this is Merry Christmas…

I don’t think I’ll edit anything.

To Where You Are

A poetic letter to me sent upon a wave and star
to reach through time, back to where you are… 

This “he” of your fantasies
receives your Little Red Balloon
and your whispers
to be delivered by Moon.

He will continuously clean
your mirrors until you see
as he does, all of your beauty
clearly.

You will weave wedding
wildflowers in your hair
and feel the wind whip
freeingly through the despair.

You will radiate in dresses
and feel feminine,
barefoot and free
upon grass and sand.

Your wavy locks
will be teased by the breeze.
Your hand outstretched
for a companion will receive.

Your heart reopened
will be filled to overflowing,
exceeding your dreams
with God-blessed reality.

Your voice in song
will again reach the heavens,
your loquaciousness endlessly
received with eager anticipation.

That voice in your head
and grip around your growth
will fall away as he convinces you
to love yourself.

Your faith will grow
as anticipated;
God will see you through
as He always has.
He knows always
what is ahead.
He will deliver love
if you cut the thread…

You will not give
your whole life
to this verbally-abusive “man.”
Soon you will be filled
with enough courage to act.
You will come to realize
those decades
of hurtful words
were lies all along;
you will come to know
your worth.

Who you once long ago
hoped instead you were
will appear as unwavering
truths in every mirror.

Ebbing Regrets

Before they drown me,
I set them free,
release regrets

to the benevolent sea.

The negative leaves
in the ebb,
and in return
brings baptism.

Another rebirth,
a buoyant start,
no more weight
syncing me
to the dark. 

Crest reflects
heaven’s light,
angels waking
at sunrise.

Arms spread wide
as the flow approaches,
submerged in the healing
saltwater solution.

Poem and image ©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. 

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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