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Laura Slaathaug Apr 2018
you’ve just hung your vibrant
dripping orchid that you’ve dedicated
to your mother
who passed not so long ago.
It hangs on wire I’d given you.
My drawing skills are beginner, you say,
and I won’t learn anything
at the intermediate watercolor workshop.
And I take a deep breath and
hold back the anger sour in my gut.
With one comment you dismiss
all that I’m worked for
over the last ten years–
ten years of painting on and off
and drawing for even longer.
I am not a beginner.
My paintings hang colorful and
bright on the other side of the room,
and I’d written on one (finished that afternoon):
“I’m learning to be brave.”
These hands, dry from scrubbing paint stains,
have learned
to swim in deep paper oceans
under a bleeding sun,
that too much water crumples the paper,
that scotch tape is not painter’s tape,
that sometimes done is better than good,
and a good drawing is essential.
I don’t know everything,
but I know more than I did ten years ago
when I had no money or knowledge
about paint or canvases.
Instead I remember at age 16
making my own canvas with glue, printer paper,
cardboard, and tears.
Here I painted lilac sunrises of better days.
This is my growth.
This is my intermediate.
Do you think I’m some beginner
who’s lost her way,
who’s aiming for things
higher than her reach?
Do you want to guide
me to the right path?
Why does your path
happens be your sister’s
400 dollar watercolor workshop
instead of the cheaper
100-200 dollar weekend one
that I signed up for?
This is where I could tell you that
I look all of the skill around and me,
all the art prints in stores,
and think, Yes, I can do that.
Yes, my paintings
hang on the wall next to yours.
And I’m not afraid to take them
down and start again.
This is what I’m thinking
and can’t tell you.
So, instead I smile and tell you,
l consider myself intermediate.
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2018
the cars on the road
and descends past naked trees
into the field still
dry despite snowmelt water
where she alights and
closes her wings, ruffles her
feathers, and dunks her
head. She drinks. The
wind stirs ripples on the pond.
Then she comes up, bobs,
floats, and dunks her head again
and again with wild
thirst that will not be sated.
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2018
They say, Poets always take the weather personally. They’re always sticking their emotions in things that have no emotions.

I say, We’re all poets here, the coldest spring on record since Laura lived in her Little House on the Prairie. The long winter, she called it then.

Yes, winter, you’ve been here long. The door was opened for you long ago, but you never got up from your seat–even after the plates were washed and put away and everyone else had left.

And I kissed a man who told me, Heaven is fresh snow powdered like sugar and me on my board sliding down the *****, the wind in my hair, so cold my teeth ache. But it doesn’t matter because I’m smiling ear to ear.

And I want to agree, but I can’t.

With a lump in my throat I say, Isolation is a snowstorm: a white horizon, a scene of a single color, and the wail of the wind.
But it’s the set-up. The blank page for what is to come after.
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2018
I am not tired,
I say as you turn on a film
and I fall asleep.
Prompt-2 Truths and a Lie
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2018

1. After last night's dinner you poured mint tea into a porcelain cup for your dad, and he laughed, saying, "Daughter, the last time we did this you were four." You replied seriously, "I'm living my dreams, Dad."

2. You go to counseling once a month and have been doing so intermittently for the last 10 years.

3. But when you were four years old, you had conversations with imagined dinner guests and poured water from a plastic tea *** like scripture from a pastor's mouth. You'd never had real tea, so you imagined it with lumps of sugar. From ear to ear your smile was real.

4. Five years ago if someone told you that your family would be sitting at your table eating your food on Easter, you would have laughed because you didn't have an oven or a table.

5. Five years ago was when you chose life, and everyday you keep choosing it--like painting over a crimson stain in white.

6. You like church because you feel like it's one of the few places you can cry, and everyone else seems to understand.

7. When you were little, you would say, "I want to go home" even if you were already there. You knew more then than you know now--that home is not a place, but a feeling.

8. Every Easter you wonder how the Son felt coming home to His Father. Sometimes you forget how heavy the stone was when it rolled away.

9. Your dad is the strongest man you know. He has bushy eyebrows; when he ruffles them he looks like a horned owl about to take flight. Your mom tuts and tells him he looks like he's going to fly away. And he has, several times around the world.

10.  Sometimes you want to fly away too, just to see what your hometown looks like to a bird, to fit your piece of prairie to the rest of the puzzle. To see what your dad saw when he flew through the sky. To see what keeps bringing him home.
(2/30) Prompt: 10 Secrets
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2018
It was cold when I died--
The ground hard where I was lain
The garments wrapping
my head and body  
were meant to be my last--
the night silent
and there was nothing
and nothing else.

The dead do not have hope.
The dead have nothing
but a tomb.
And this tomb was meant
for me.

The living have stories.
The dead have endings.
But even endings have endings,
and the biggest trick I fell for
was that mine was done.

Because there was
not nothing.
The heavy air became light.
And the ground thudded with
heavy movement;
then it was still.
And there was nothing once more.

And then my eyes opened.
The wrappings were pulled
from my face,
and light hit my eyes.

And I rose again
on my 2 feet,
and walked toward
the open stone door
that You had
rolled open
for me.
Happy Easter!
Laura Slaathaug Mar 2018
You forget how light your steps fall
and how quickly the tide
and wind weather your footprints.
So what if you’re not standing on sandy beaches,
go stand on the frozen lake and
leap over the snowy mounded waves.
Take this moment for what it brings.
You’ve been ill—but you’re standing here
better out in the open, your feet cold and wet.
So you don’t enough money to
fly to wherever you want whenever you want.
Your eyes fly upward now,
over where blue meets white endlessness.
You breathe in cold air and blink.  
You’re where you’re at
in life because
you chose
to    be   here.
Every day your choices accumulate
like snow that refuses to stop falling
even on the first day of spring,
and they bear you
over a mound of frozen opportunity.
Sure, 90% of what happens in life is beyond human control,
but 10% is how we react to it.
As time passes, choices can’t always be undone,
May always comes.
And in March
we always have the option to continue.
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