Writes With Pencils

fiction, memoir, essays and poetry

Tag: Vulnerability

Composure Decomposed

Airbrushed each day
in competence activity and rectitude
her face was flawless
free from blemishes
of failure insecurity and sin.
At least everyone thought so
and when asked about her skin regime
she only credited eating lots of butter and olive oil
and the luck of good genetics from her mother
who at 75 had looked no more than 60.

But then the perfect storm
of expectations loss and slaughtered dreams
beyond what she could bear
ripped away her glasses
grayed her hair
and with each squall and tempest
the careful coats of paint
then peeled away
in several shades of hardship
revealing all she’d lived and covered
while extolling optimism.

When the winds had once more calmed
and she first looked in the mirror
she reached from habit
for her brush and powder
to fill the cracks and layers now exposed
but when she took in her reflection
she saw a tender beauty there
from the sadness in her eyes
and weary sallow of her cheeks
to the deepened worry lines along her brow
all a burnished gold patina now
the vulnerability of uncertainty
of living her own truth.



Struck by a stone
I didn’t see coming
driving behind a dump truck
with an unsecured load
all it took was a pebble
to hit the surface
just so
to divot the pane
previously unmarred
remarkably, for nearly a decade—
that petrous chisel
carved a thumbnail crater
between my left eye
and the sky.

Soon the tiny lines will lengthen
with each freeze and thaw
the pain
flexing and contracting
reflecting and absorbing
flexing and contracting
with acceptance and resistance
forcing the lines
to splinter across the
visible plane
spider and web
distorting my vision
especially when it rains.

On the Drive to a Winter Morning Swim



Lively chatter from the ladies in the front seats
failed to penetrate my haze
as cityscape changed to landscape and back again,
pale noise, foreign sounds
against a monochromatic world while the sun still slept.

White houses, all muted in shadow to dove grey,
charcoal pavement-
both ahead and behind, from driveway, to street, to bridge
mountains, lake, and sky,
each an indiscernible mass draped in pre-dawn darkness.

Thirty minutes of movement through turquoise water
rhythmically and silently,
awakened my mind from foggy depths, evolved its view
from stressful worries
to the vision and opportunity of change.

Outside, the morning’s palette brightened with my thoughts
from stern and sullen grey
to tender shades of icy blue, gold, apricot, and rose;
these are the hues of hope and possibility.

Both magnificent in their pacific splendor
the mountains stood then
in backlit silhouette, full of solidity and grace
nodding reassurance
at my decision born from feeling and experience.

Invisible crystals in frost-filled air refracted light,
muted edges,
as demure Mount Baker bid good day ‘cross violet glass
to virile Mount Rainier,
they, the duality of vulnerability and strength.

He was bathed in a golden halo full of self-possession,
commanding the horizon.
She wore her pure white robe and swam in watery tones
full of femininity
simply being, needing nothing more to prove her worth.

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