Sketch: This is a rose bush waiting to bloom.

My hands
remember the weight of charcoal
and what it takes to keep
the image from smearing.
I sketch a rose bush in early spring
when it wants to be blooming
but can’t, yet.

My eyes
capture details like they are new
as if I have just seen
bare limbs for the first time.
With each stroke they become more alive
til I understand they are
just waiting.

I finish sketching
as the day grows cold,
and as I pack up my things
I know:
roses
do not blossom into being overnight
but rather
survive the winter
to triumph in the spring,
and this knowledge that
the beauty
is in the details
calms me.

IMG_6554

-L

dust

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nevermind the dust
blowing in every direction

if you can take a breath
even if only for one moment,
you are alive
*
i graduated from eighth grade
my first kiss, a dare i chose
in a gazebo
on an early summer night

quickly, i touched my lips to his
in the middle of a circle of
eyes watching
*
the next morning
on the flight to Denver
my walkman in my lap
forehead pressed to the window

all i remember from the night before
is the rhythm of my knees shaking
in anticipation

curious
*
the snow-capped mountains
are grand in their majesty,
i learned to say

always in the distance
and my mother can’t stop sighing
in the face of their majesty

but their jagged, rocky edges
viewed from the highway
bring me no peace of mind
*
we drive south,
my mom, my sister, and i

there, the wind is sandy and strong
it pelts every inch of our skin
stinging
*
that night, the man in the campsite next to ours
has a tiny pup-tent set up,
but he decides to sleep under the stars

a salsa song travels through the
calm night wind
from a lonely bar down the road

i lay awake for hours, eyes open wide
my sister and mother sleeping soundly
on either side of me

i realize
for the first time
how much space I need
*
i awoke in that strange valley
and many years later, I call it home

space, here, is endless
in the cloudless blue sky
in the untouched fields of kochia
in the spring winds that coat my skin
with sand

but nevermind the dust
blowing in every direction

if you can take a breath
even if only for one moment,
you are alive

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-A

from the side of beartooth highway

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look for me
i am the girl who is driving a white ’96 oldesmobile across the country
with the unwashed hair, tied back in a red bandana
i carry rope, to teach myself knots
a pocket knife, because it makes me feel able

look for me in the woods, humming a John Denver tune
or under a tree somewhere, just pulled off the road
my face buried deep in this journal,
my mind pumping out words that my left hand anxiously tries to keep up with

look for me, somewhere between innocence and adulthood
the worry lines still faint across my forehead

look for me, as i stake out my independence at a furious pace
as i stumble through what it means to be alone
as i am silent, or listening, or rolling my eyes

the dirt under my nails comes from digging

look for me
as i try
to uncover
my truth

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-A

Movers and Shakers

We move to big cities where we know no one,
Leaving behind people who love us because we want something more.

We feel lonely but try hard not to show it,
Diving head first into all of the important work that we do.

We take pride in feeling like we create change,
Knowing that all of our difficult decisions have been worth it.

But we sit in offices observing them,
Marching in the streets of Baltimore and Caracas and Nairobi.

I like to think there are others besides me,
Wondering if we would be happier walking alongside them.

-L

Looking Back at the Hills

There is so much of the world I want to see,
And I have only just begun to know
Who I am and where I would like to go
Instead of where “culture” tells me to be.
Moving far away from home was the key
Because it showed me how tall I can grow;
I could not possibly have stayed home, no,
When city life was so clearly for me.
But why did I romanticize these lights?
There are too many books on leaving home.
I sat plotting my escape all those nights,
Missing that no matter how far I roam
I’ll always want the hills and other sights
That molded me as if inside a dome.

-L

springtime in the desert

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the desert in utah
fills with wildflowers in may

prickly pears
asters
yucca
all blooming in
cadences of color
dancing in the
spring wind
*
i wake to the sound of
birds in green mulberry trees, singing
in delight to
see the sun
again
*
there are layers of life
so apparent in
sandstone mountains
salty, smooth but jagged
crumbling

inside, i stand atop the misty canyon
at peace with
all the questions and scars
all the layers of my self

because valleys fill
and empty
over and over

grow wildflowers from
salty, sandy dust

sing songs in gratitude
to see the seasons
change as they do

it seems that
beauty can thrive in the most
unlikely of places

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-A