You Shall Love (another poem for Kierkegaard)

Dere mom and.
Dad wan.
you git mad.
at me I.
Fil like living.
but then I thingk
Thit you gis
wd mis me
luve frum

(age 6)

The Hidden Life of Love (A poem for Kierkegaard)

The valentine card I made for you
Was buried under twenty-two.
Some were bigger than my own;
I saw one with little rhinestones.
My valentine was much more plain.
I did not buy it and I forgot my name.
I drew it out on plain white paper,
And wrote your name in big block letters.
I wanted you to feel special,
And sharing the card made my heart revel.
But after you left the class with your pile,
I found my card on the floor tile.
My red and pink heart looked very sad
With the color bleeding out of the lines I had.
The corners were crumpled, and there was a foot mark
stamped on top of of my loving artwork.
I picked it up and brushed it clean,
And put it back where it would be seen.
On top of your desk, my heart now lays,
So you’ll see it again in three days.

NaPoWriMo Continues

I keep strange company, you should know.
They’re not my shape and move quite slow.
I found them when I was just a fry.
They were already much older than I.
They could not talk or listen to me.
They had no brains and looked like a tree.
I thought they were one–a single new friend,
But after a year of friendship, they stemmed.
First, one broke off the top of the stack.
I thought my friend had gone to wrack.
With a short little yelp, I wiggled over.
The top slowly drifted to me, closer.
Then another part of my friendly tree
Popped off the top and floated over to me.
Soon there were more–four friends in all–
Still older than me, but now all so small.
They were not like the friend I’d known;
These ones were soft, and softly shown.
Their bodies were bubbles with angel hair
That drifted and swept below their sphere.
They held the light in a delicate glow,
And moved like ghosts as they followed the flow.
I tried to keep up with my tiny fin,
But my nose is quite heavy and my fin is too thin.
And just when I thought I’d lost my only companion,
One picked me up with his head cushion!
They would not leave me behind by myself,
But they would not stay on the coastal shelf.
I took one last look towards home–
And all the coral I’d known.
All the other seahorses looked back at me.
But friends are friends,
And our bond never ends.
So, I ride with the jellyfish in the sea.
Seahorse and Polyp

fry and Polyp

Because Octopuses Rock!

On the glass of the wall, at the end of the hall,
Oliver sprawled eight legs out tall
In search of a way out of his cage
To meet with the lady not far away.
They had never met, but he knew she was there.
He could not see her and he had not dared
Before tonight to brave the air,
And walk the distance to her lair.
He searched with his suckers until he found a hole
At the top of his tank, just big enough for a soul,
Or a mouth just like his, yes, his beak could fit through.
So he pressed himself up to the hole in the roof,
Until his beak had gone through and one little leg, too,
His gills grabbed a breath, then with a shove, he was through.
The air in the hall was quite unfit for him;
It was far too dry and much, much too thin.
He slipped down quickly to where he’d never been.
Then he sauntered with swagger as he held his breath in.
He searched each tank as he passed it by
Hoping he’d find her before he should die.
And just as he thought he’d run out of breath
There she was, stretched out, with her legs on the glass.
All three of his hearts jumped at once in his head,
And his gills made a squeak of joy as he led
His body up the side of her tank. And as he passed,
He matched his suckers with hers on the glass.
He found a small hole on the top of her tank,
And pushed himself through; with a splash, he sank.
He took a deep breathe and fell into her arms
They embraced, wrapped around one another in the dark.
They shared a fresh meal of lobster and fish.
She taught him to dance and he taught her to spit.
They juggled crabs and tossed seahorses,
They blew bubbles and built a sand fortress.
Then, with one last hug—a sixteen leg knot–
Oliver went home, vowing to return to that spot.
And as the aquarium-goers littered the hall in the day,
Oliver sat dreaming of his visit down the way.
Octopus Hug

Octopus Hug

In Honor of April being National Poetry Writing Month

The storm started in drips, in the dead of night
Water dappled on the wood of the trees with a
Then a distant roll of thunder–
Gently giving a nudge to those asleep in the ground.
By morning, a raking wind combed the knots out of the forest.
The trees stretched and yawned in the daylight,
Pushing up pops of green at their fingertips.
They shook and rustled their bark
And grew taller in the sun.
As night settles in again, the lightning returns in scattered pieces.
The air is filled with silent static as the sparks shimmer and glow.
The elusive owls call with their weighty voices
Carrying over the rhythmic croaks and twees on the ground.
They dare us to find them in the dark.

Finding My Icon

I posted a story a while back that mentioned my struggle in middle and high school as a displaced missionary kid. I was what some have termed a “hidden immigrant.” I looked American and spoke American, but I didn’t feel American, and I didn’t want to be American.

To fix at least one of those things, I wore jewelry and clothing from Papua New Guinea. I had a black, turtle shell ring and gumis (rubber bracelets made out of engine seals), and a wrap around skirt. I went out of my way to look foreign. The new problem I ran into was that in middle school, different was shunned.

High school was a mixed bag. I tapered off my different-ness a tad, but shot myself in the foot when I decided I didn’t want to be accepted or involved in anything, anyway. I just wanted out of there. I wanted to go back home.

Sometimes I’d work myself into an emotional mess by silently insisting that I was not American. But my passport, birth certificate, parents, and classmates said I was. I had nothing to show for being born abroad except a lack of local friends and an identity crisis.

By the time I made it to college, I was thoroughly confused. My moments of emotional disarray left me panicked for something I could hold as proof of who I was. In year 2, I settled on the thought of getting a tattoo to help me cope. This was not unusual. Several other missionary kids I grew up with had done exactly that to ease the anxiety of their own identity crisis. We had even exchanged ideas of what design would work best as our badge. Some got “PNG” tattooed on them in elegant writing. Some got the flag. but most opted for the Papua New Guinean bird of paradise.

The bird of paradise is the national symbol. It’s on the flag, in the seal, on their jets, and on any packaged food that was made within their boarders. The bird of paradise is to Papua New Guinea what a star-spangled bald eagle is to America.

Bird of Paradise

I wanted that. Just the idea of having it branded on me was soothing. Finally, I’d have proof of who I was–something I could show anybody who thinks I’m just like them; something to stare at in those dark moments when I didn’t know who I was.

I didn’t get the tattoo. I was talked out of it on the basis that it was a tattoo. And my desire to be branded was outweighed by my desire to please others. So instead, I stood by in quiet longing as my PNG-raised friends got embellished, one by one.

I tried to comfort myself with Ephesians 1:13: “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…” I kept telling myself “I’m tattooed with God. That’s my identity.” It was a pretty picture in my head. I envisioned a wax seal on my forehead with a little Scarlett Pimpernel emblem pressed into it because I didn’t know what symbol the Holy Spirit would use.

But as pretty as it was in my head, I still felt sad that I had nothing physical to look at and hold on to. I couldn’t point to it and show everyone. It wasn’t something that came up in conversations. No one asked me where I got the Holy Spirit. So as much as I told myself about the identity that I was “tattooed with,” I couldn’t help but want something more.

And as selfish and worldly as it was, God heard my cry, and He answered me. Towards the end of year 2 in college, I received a gift from my mom–a ring flaunting the elegant bird of paradise. It was an answer to a prayer I had never prayed and a request I hadn’t vocalized. This ring was everything that I had wanted in the tattoo. It carried my heritage in it. It was a brand worn on my finger. I never wanted to take it off. And so, it became my icon–the symbol of my childhood and even more so, my life as a whole. It even became my icon–my image of Christ, his provision, and his calling for me.

The ring that saved my sanity.

The ring that saved my sanity.


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