Monarch

Her lips were always smiling,
A bright shade of pink
That always made me think of spring.
We’d sit at the table for hours,
Picking beads of certain colors
And arranging them in stencils
To later be ironed.
I always loved the sparkly orange one
Because it looked
Like the wings of a monarch butterfly.
And that’s what she was:
The monarch of our family.
Wings stretched,
Sparkling in the sunlight,
I know she must be soaring
Somewhere in sunset-pink clouds.

When We Were Young

Once upon a time,
Joy poured from thick, gray clouds.
You and I
Cheered.
I kicked puddles at you,
And you tried to push me into them
As we screamed,
Wild beasts that we were
When we were young.
My straight hair
Frizzed
And curled around my rosy cheeks.
Your glasses
Fogged,
And you abandoned them
And all caution.
The others
Ran inside.
We stayed.
We lived
In the mud and grime,
And we were free.
Today,
It rains again,
But what falls from those clouds
Is sorrow
As you put up an umbrella
To protect your vision
And hurry inside.

Merry Go Round

I used to love
The merry-go-’round,
Always riding
Up and down
On a beautiful horse
Whose mane stood still
As it rode in circles,
Ignorant to thrill.
There came a day
When it began to feel slow,
And I realized
There was nowhere to go
On a horse that always
Rode the same path,
The scenery always
The same as it passed.

Phoenix

Gray walls surround me, desolate and empty.
No pictures hang here, no art, no color.
So barren and void of all feeling, all emotion.
Water seeps down from one corner,
Inspiring cracks in the paint to form around it.
In one place, the paint has chipped off entirely,
Revealing a single orange fleck
Of immunity to this depression.
I begin chipping the paint with my fingernails,
Desperately needing to know
What lies dormant beneath its cold surface.
The chips flutter to the ground, catching the light,
Like snow against the dreary, gray background.
They collect at my feet, sticking to my socks,
Gathering in a pile on the floor around them,
A cluster of ashes, dust, and decay.
I stare at the pile as it grows, my fingers still picking,
Gray chips floating down like smoke billowing up
As the pile of ashes stretches higher.
The cracking of chipping paint like the crackling of a fire,
Leaving disintegrated residue beneath its brilliant flame.
It is alive.
The chipped away paint reveals a vibrant mosaic,
Color stretching from the pile of ashes upward,
Like fiery wings erupting from nothingness,
Illuminating the room with newfound glory,
Creating summer from a wintry wasteland.
A shame it was ever hidden,
But how extraordinary to uncover,
Born from the ashes,
Inspiration.

Can You Hear Me?

Can you hear me?
Can you hear
The cracking,
The wavering,
The fear?
Can you decipher
The words
That rise from my lips,
Their meaning?
Are we speaking
The same language,
Or have I suddenly begun
Chanting in tongues
That only I
Can understand?
Can you hear the running
Of tears down my cheeks,
Or the stinging
As they burn them?
Can you hear
The pain you’re causing
The scraping
The bruising?
Is my drunken slur
Too thick
For you to comprehend?
Is it the wind
That’s drowning me out
Or am I speaking to you
From underwater?
Can you hear
The fire in my throat
As I struggle
To keep speaking
To keep trying
To make you hear me?
Can you hear
The simmering
Of water vapor
When at last
I give up?

Steel Being

I have been burned.
I have felt the flames
Engulf my skin and my being.
I felt them wrap around my heart,
Twisting it into something
I never thought it could be.
I saw the world,
Distorted through the smoke,
And had to remind myself
Where I was,
Who I was,
And why.

And in the days passed
Since such trauma
I have been told
How it has made me who I am,
How it has made me stronger,
How it has turned my skin to steel.
Don’t they understand?
The flames did not do that.
The flames tore through my skin
Like it was paper.
The flames left me inhuman,
Unrecognizable.
Looking in the mirror
Was never so painful.
I built the steel
Around myself
To hide my scars,
And I told everyone
It was my new skin,
Wearing it with false pride
As if being made of steel
Could change what I’d been through.
But it’s still there.
It will never leave me.
And when I am told
How it’s made me stronger
As if I or anyone
Should be grateful
For something so awful,
The scars burn
As if the fire
Has been lit again
This time, beneath my armor
Held against my skin.
And I can relive
The agony I went through
Trying to put it out.
I am no steel being,
Only someone too afraid
To live without armor.

Labyrinth

As I travel,
Two lines unravel
Like a scarf,
That’s not been knotted
At the end.
Hypnotic is the pattern
My feet follow after,
In rhythm
With some song
In my head.
Alone, I’m not lonely,
As birds chirp around me,
Their melodies,
I’ve not heard
In years.
Or perhaps I have heard them,
And simply ignored them,
Too caught up
In my own
Affairs.
The buzz at the back
Of my mind has relaxed.
My muscles
Release
Their tension.
The caress of the breeze
Puts me at ease,
As I follow
The labyrinth’s
Perfection.
Around each twist
Away, I let slip
Another
Distraction
From my mind.
And as I enter
The mandala’s center
New answers
And peace
I find.