Alive

Running through mesquites,

sun on my shoulders,

fighting

for sandpaper breaths.

never approaching fast.

it was awful.

it was awesome.

*

Rhythms that matched my pulse,

handing glowsticks down the row

shouting the chorus

with the man on stage,

with the crowd,

united.

*

Sketching my newborn cousin

in our grandmother’s arms

rubbing his silky hair

holding his tiny hand

in mine.

*

Throwing snow at my brother,

or water balloons,

or socks,

or paper airplanes,

or fallen leaves.

*

The first time I drew a mermaid,

eleven and gangly and wrapped up

in stories

that guided my lines.

the mermaid I painted a decade later,

with

a shark’s tail

a steady gaze

only the vaguest idea

what I was doing.

*

Dancing

in a garden at night,

on a stage, wearing glitter,

in a kitchen,

or a dream,

or a studio,

or a quiet warehouse.

sandpaper breaths are an old friend,

and so’s the burn between my shoulder blades.

I jumped more

when I was young,

but the dance has the same heart.

*

A Gila monster

sighted at dusk

on the side of a dirt road.

a peacock

wandering, gleaming,

in a zoo.

a tree, old and bent and strong.

ants on the sidewalk.

fish in a tank.

a coyote, half glimpsed in tall grass.

a heron at a river.

a dragon

that no one can touch.

*

Cutting

paper and fabric and soul

into bits,

reassembling

into something new,

*

Finding a story

that fills a space

I didn’t know my heart

was missing.

telling a story

to do the same

for a heart I can’t even see.

*

Standing in a thunderstorm

wet clothes

bare feet

just listening

to the pulse of the rain.

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You are a collage

You start off as a blank sheet of paper. Maybe you’re a different color or texture than other sheets. That’s okay. Every paper is covered in potential. You are no different.

You make yourself into a collage, finding bits and pieces of things that look like they’re worth making a part of you and sticking them on. Sometimes they turn out to not be such a good fit, or to be absolutely terrible in the long run. That’s okay, too. You peel off what you can, and put better things over what you can’t.

Sometimes life happens. You get dirty, or splashed with paint, and the design you planned for yourself becomes impossible. Sometimes other people come and glue things to you without your consent, maybe covering up the parts of yourself you were most happy with in the process. And sometimes you’re in a place where there’s nothing, nothing you want to add to yourself around.

But you are your own collage. You can get out of those places, peel off or cover up the things that don’t belong on you, move forward. You can remove or cover the things that shouldn’t be a part of you. You can cut things that don’t look quite right into new shapes before you stick them down. You can plan a new design. It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort.

Collages are made up of the different things an artist runs across, the candy wrappers and funny phrases and images that stood out to them, things that wouldn’t go together if the artist hadn’t decided they did. People are like that too. Each has interests and experiences and ideas that no one else in the world can precisely match.

I think that’s beautiful.

The above collage is titled “A Request Of The World”.