Perspectives Sample #1

“Self Portrait” 
by Heather Cariou (Photo by Erwin Maas)

My mouth is too big.
This is what I’m told.
Or made to feel.

I am loud.
I say what I think.
I speak too close for comfort,
too often hit the mark.
My voice dominates the stale air
in rooms full of the compliant
and soft-spoken.

My heart blazes, shines
out of my mouth,
on fire. You’re too
intense, I’m told.  Well,
this heart never saw a battle
it didn’t want to fight,
nor a wound it didn’t want to heal.
Should I be sorry?

The world is big and loud,
hungry and dirty,
joyful and provocative.
I shout into the wind.
I run at the world, throw
my shoulders into it.
I make fists, dip them into
rivers and emerge with
open hands.

I learn my lessons,
and unlearn them.
My heart gets in the way,
trips over my mouth and falls.
I scramble to my feet again,
shins bruised.

I see things differently.
The eyes of an outsider
always looking in.
These blue eyes
have gazed on grace and goodness,
betrayal and death;
shone with joy and
darkened with shame.

I see with my heart:
my own failings are clear
as the mossy stones
on the bed of the creek -
I don’t need to be to told.
I don’t need to be fixed, either.
I am no broken spirit
beyond repair.

My mouth serves its purpose
in the world.  My heart, my eyes,
my elbows which carve a space,
my hands opening and shutting,
the knees on which I fall,
all have their worth.
My laugh unfurls
like colored flags
against an open sky.

Inside: a nest of sweetness,
hidden, just behind
my solar plexis,
and a well of tears that
I may always drink,
should my soul be thirsty.

You can’t give with one hand,
says my mother,
and take with the other.
I say, you can’t take
one part of me and
give back the other.
Intensity comes
with the territory.

I say, I may never be
reconciled.  I may have
learned as much
discretion as I can.

I say, life is too important
not to be intense,
and I will always
have something
to shout about.


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