So I get Alice up every day at 6am for school, literally pick her up out of bed because she wants to keep sleeping and then I think that if I just let her stay up late Friday night and then leave her be in the morning she’ll sleep until 10am on Saturday. No, no I am a foolish creature, it does NOT work that way. She’ll still wake up early, she’ll just turn from a regular cat into a hellcat by 2pm and will stay that way for THE REST OF THE DAY.     The thing is I consistently hope for the luxury of sleeping in and she consistently and literally craps all over my dream. This morning Alice woke me up at 6:30 however. She technically slept in. So I guess my dream did finally come true.

The worst days as every mother knows are the headache days. The flu days. The days when you feel like shit and look like death and all you want to do is sleep for one more hour just one more please God. But there are no days off for a stay-at-home mom, even when your kid is in preschool it’s only for 3 hours which is enough time to merely recover your mind before your child takes it over again. I can recall one day when my daughter was 3 I had a horrid migraine and I was so done with everything, I just gave her the table. I gave her the glue, the markers, the play-dough, the construction paper, and then sat on the couch said “Have at it, the world is your oyster.” She started out making pictures, a little messy but nothing I couldn’t deal with later. I sat there and dozed off (don’t judge until you’ve walked a mile…) I woke up and she had colored all over the table, taken off all of her clothes, covered herself in tiger stripes and colored her tongue. “Whoa! Alice! What did you do?!”


My first thought was there she is, Hellcat. And then I took a picture. And sent it to my sister. Who texted “Put it in a blog!!!”

My daughter is a source of great entertainment. Right now she is hitting her head face first repeatedly into a pillow because she’s “so excited my friend’s coming over I just want to kill everybody” what?! My husband is sitting right in front of her, placidly searching contacts on his phone.

“Alice, calm down, you’re not a Korean dictator you’re a little girl.” She keeps hitting her head.

“Okay, you’re going to get a headache if you keep doing that.” (Later she does get a headache.) Obviously she stops eventually and moves on to refusing to change her shirt. She refuses to do a lot of things. Like wash her hair. Or brush her teeth unless she can wear her mittens. Or eat her toast unless I put chocolate on it (thank you Grandmommy.) She has her grandmother’s streak of stubbornness and it is truly a marvel. (You know it’s true Mom!) It manifests itself in all kinds of ways, lately she’s been debating me on every little thing. Earlier this morning was a perfect example. I’m drinking tea, and writing on my computer. Alice comes over wearing pink cat ears with bits of oatmeal on her shirt. She puts the ears on my head, (which I will forget about and later grandma will see me working and say “I love your ears.”) she then notices my tea.

“Is that milk?” Enquiry opened.

“No, it’s tea.” First response.

“Well it looks like milk.” Obvious distrust, rebuttal to first response, argument begun.

“It’s tea with milk in it.” Easy explanation, expectation of argument won.

“It smells like tea and butter.” Observation, another rebuttal.

“There’s no butter in it.” Denial of strangeness, patience beginning to wane.

“It smells like there’s butter in it.” Suspicion.

“There’s not butter in the tea.” Emphatic denial, humorousness of conversation noticed.

“I’m just telling you the truth, there’s butter in that tea.” Conclusion reached, enquiry completed. Not sure what happened.

She’s like a tiny Perry Mason confident in her assessments of the world at large. Many days I wish I had her spirited confidence and I remind myself not to do anything to crush it. So often as parents we want to mould and transform our children into our idea of who they should be, forgetting to enjoy who they are. Because really this is not my first rodeo, I’ve been hazed by Alice’s two older brothers. They taught me that regardless of what the rest of the world has to say about it they are themselves and no amount of pushing them to assimilate and minimize their true natures is going to work. If you want a successful child, let them be who they are and do what they love. It’s so much easier because in the long run they’ll likely end up there anyways and you want to be a part of their lives. Nothing breaks the heart more than when a child grows up and rejects their parents. For all the little Hellcats out there, we love your spirit, take us with you when you reach the stars.

Pink and Black and Blue

The black and blue of girlhood
The lies and broken places
The ferocious hugs- don’t let me go
The hilarity of being assigned pink-
A weak, simpering color.
As my daughter stands screaming,
Both hands in fists, naked…
I think not pink, definitely not pink.
I had a thought to mould her into some kind of idyllic princess.
It’s laughable as she covers herself in crayola tiger stripes and roars at me from the dining room table.
As if to say “just try and tame this wild thing”
No my love. I wouldn’t change a thing. You are at your most beautiful.
Ah, the irony of a black and blue girlhood surrounded by pink and purple toys.

Kimkoa 2018



Me ‘n My Shadow

As anyone who truly has bipolar knows, you can choose to take your medication or you can choose to be crazy. There is no in-between. I’ll give you an example. I was seeking advice undercover for myself from a friend who also has bipolar and asked her about taking medication. I was deciding whether I should, having successfully (or unsuccessfully depending on who you ask) kept my bipolar a secret. Also at that point I had not experienced psychosis which eventually scared me into accepting my medication regimen which returned me to myself. I knew she had taken it in the past and was curious what she was on and if there were any side effects. She blithely replied that “Oh, I’ve decided to deal with my symptoms naturally.” Wow, I thought. She must really be centered because I feel like I can’t handle this anymore.

“That’s great! What are you doing?” I genuinely wanted to know.

“Oh, I’m doing yoga and when it gets really bad I go outside and sit in the swing. I love just being in nature.” She was more than nonchalant about this.

“What are your symptoms? You still have them?” I asked, concerned and again, curious.

“Yeah, well they never go away. You know sometimes I can’t stop crying and I get anxiety. Sometimes I’m really wild. It’s like I see things.” Whoa, what?! “And sometimes I can hear them whispering my name.”

“Oh.” I said, thinking good God woman take your pills!

I have no idea what she’s doing now, whether she takes medication or continues to romance her inner demons. Honestly it’s really none of my business. Her bipolar is hers as my bipolar is mine and how she chooses to deal with it is her business. But I will say bipolar is an ugly, lying beast that can lurk in the shadows for years and then emerge as the great and terrible dragon it truly is and rob you of everything you’ve ever loved. For me I would rather do everything I can to prevent that from happening. On the scale of deadliness think cancer times 1000. According to an article by Steven C. Dilsaver, MD in the Psychiatric Times, in clinical samples, about 50% of people with bipolar disorder were found to have attempted suicide. In fact, in the largest epidemiologic study on the topic of suicide to date, someone with bipolar disorder is twice as likely to commit suicide as someone with non bipolar clinical depression. With suicide being the 11th leading cause of death you can see how deadly bipolar truly is.

The reality that bipolar is a complex, often misunderstood illness is a sad truth and one that needs to be addressed on a grand scale. In a previous blog post I mentioned the three major mood states associated with bipolar. However they can in fact co-exist as so called “mixed states” which are the most likely precursors to suicide. A person can spend months in a hypomanic state, appearing to others to be full of energy, the life of the party, perhaps a bit scattered but for the most part not a suicide risk. Then without warning slip into a mixed state wherein they are manic and depressed at the same time, pummeled night and day by wild, angry, depressive thoughts and in some cases a literal voice screaming at them about how worthless they are. Unable to sleep, unable to gather their thoughts together they may commit suicide in a matter of weeks. A matter of days. That’s one reason why it’s so important for people with bipolar to have a strong support system of loved ones who notice those changes in behavior and when the individual stops taking their medication they will intervene.

I am one of those people who has that strong support system. My mother is a psychologist. Well-versed in matters of the mind she has been my savior more than once. My husband is my rock, steady even in the roughest of waters I doubt any other man could handle my swings and brushes with death the way he has done. Hopefully now that I have found the appropriate cocktail of meds that my mind needs those days are behind us however there is no guarantee I won’t need to revisit the psych ward in the future should I destabilize.

So in a nutshell I take 19 medications, however not all of them are prescribed specifically for my bipolar. One is birth control, (this should be obvious as the kind of medications I take are not compatible with a growing baby) one is for my asthma, one is for ADD, one is for the anxiety associated with OCD which I also have. Incidentally many people with bipolar also have co-morbid conditions which is why it’s so important to find the right psychiatrist who is willing to take the time to sort through the muck of your sick mind and work with you to achieve wellness. Too many doctors are blinded by their own egos, believe me I’ve experienced enough of them to know this is a common theme.

I continually say this but I am one of the lucky ones. My doctor is not only brilliant, she is also a loving mother who has her children’s artwork all over the walls of her office. Who will sit on a bean bag when there aren’t enough chairs. Who lets you hug her and hugs you back without reservation. Who understands what you’re  suffering, who can empathize with you about missing your children during hospital stays, feeling like a failure as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a human being. Who will actively search for another medication, no not that one, let’s try this one, no, ok how about this one. Who doesn’t give up on you and isn’t critical when something doesn’t work as though your body were the problem and not the drug. Who reads your poetry. Who lets you sing to her when you can’t sing to anyone else. Who can see you on the edge of death even when no one else can and will reach through the void to pull you back to safety. Who is not just a psychiatrist but a true healer who uses her knowledge and her compassion to save lives.

My mother is this way with her patients. She is a psychologist. They are trained to be like this and also this is my mother’s nature. This is so very rare in a psychiatrist. When I think about Dr. Trowbridge and how I had no idea her card was coming down the river I realize that for every moment I thought the darkness would last forever, her ray of light has become a warm glow that is truly guiding me through treacherous waters towards the sun.

Even though I’ll always have my shadow of bipolar lurking behind me I know that trusting in her and my beautiful family is the best way of keeping the beast exactly where it belongs.

One Day 

Hot tears on cold cheeks

No one to talk to

A burning feeling deep down where lies are kept.

Watching the quick and witty world from behind clouded glass streaked with fingerprints and the echo “I am not like you” a familiar cadence.

One day I’ll run

Past the coffee shop girls with their topknots and baggy sweaters. Past the wealthy white women trimming rose bushes and drinking white wine out of water bottles. Past the teenagers circling the park for weed, meth, cocaine. Like dogs circling a dumpster, their mouths twisted in a sneer of addiction and desire.

One day I’ll escape the racist cops with their cruel abuses of power “Take your shoes off and walk on the ice”

The hateful mother-in-laws blinded by their loneliness and perceived failures.

One day I’ll rise.

Until then I’ll sit behind this dirty glass and dream of better days.

Kimkoa 2018

Hospital Birthday


At the behest of my husband and from my own desire I want to take a pause from the present sweetness of my valley life and talk about my illness. It is synonymous with me and always will be. I am bipolar. It is not a thing you outgrow, it cannot be cured with essential oils or mediation, or even prayer. But there is a community of people who know enough about this deadly disease to save lives. So here is just a peek into what it’s like to be me.

It’s an indescribable feeling to realize you’re turning 41 in the mental health wing of a hospital. I can’t say I minded all that much. That had everything to do with my family bringing balloons, cheesecake, candles, flowers, my daughter dressed in her gorgeous cream dress I bought her, the other patients, the nurses, my doctor and my anxiety medication. Now I think about it and the tears come. I cry for myself now because I couldn’t then. I never allow myself the luxury of self pity, only compassion after the fact. It’s how I survive. Once one begins to wallow there is no end to it. My chest also floods with feeling for what the nurses and doctors must feel for every patient that sits in front of them wavering between realities clutching a birthday balloon. For every weak bird in purple hospital scrubs who says in a small voice, “Today is my birthday,” I wonder how many of them pray for us at night. Especially the ones of us for whom on our birthdays no one comes.

Providence Behavioral Health, known as 4 west, or as those of us who have been its “guests” call it “the mental ward” is actually a beautiful place. Clean, staffed with well-meaning, over-worked nurses and at least one or two brilliant doctors, not only is it a haven for the mentally ill, it literally saved my life more than once. I am among the lucky ones not to have been sent to Alaska Psychiatric Institute with its high level security measures, over-population and the most severely disturbed patients including the violent ones however I don’t separate myself from the patients there. On many occasions when there simply aren’t available beds at providence patients are sent to API like lambs to the slaughter. I very nearly was sent there myself and thank my lucky stars to not have had to experience it. Having talked with other patients who have it remains for me a lurking dragon that keeps me taking my meds regularly. That and the beast of unreality which will always and forever haunt me; a thing I would wish on no one.

Whenever I tell anyone I’ve been (voluntarily) committed to the psych ward I hear two things. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Girl Interrupted. I have one thing to say. No. No, no, no, no, no. Let me be clear. NO. It is not 1960. There are not secret rooms or day passes or drama of the kind movies drum up. Patients are not sneaking in and out of windows, fooling staff and running the show. The ward is a calm place. A place of healing. We spend our days in therapy. Our nights closely monitored and most of us if not in natural sleep, an assisted medicated version of it. Yes we form bonds that sometimes last after hospitalization but whatever drama that follows is not part of the hospital stay, which has strict rules about sharing contact information and sharing physical contact although we do still hug each other when the urge overtakes us, such as when someone is crying or there is a shared moment of great joy. I have broken the rules about sharing contact information. It is so very hard not to, so very difficult to remember that people who are one way in a controlled environment may become completely different once not required to take their medications and then may not refrain from drinking or using drugs to cope with the re-emergence of symptoms which causes in some cases epic backslides. I can say the rule exists for good reasons.

I myself do not drink or use drugs. It’s not because I don’t want to. I love wine. I hate pot however, it almost killed me, heightened my symptoms to the point where I thought I was the next messiah. More on that later. But yes, I miss being able to have wine with a girlfriend or sharing a bottle with my mom while watching an old classic film. But I’m too sick to drink. If I’m not in a manic state I can have a glass or two like a normal person. But once that mania hits I will literally drink everything in the house. Just before my last hospital stay I had a manic episode where I binge drank almost all of the alcohol in my mother’s house and had no memory of it.

Lets talk about the ugly side of bipolar 1 with psychotic features. First: The psychosis. How would it feel if you thought by just standing near someone you could send them to hell? A kind of hell only Dante could dream up. How would it feel to be convinced a demon lives inside the right half of your body and so your right eye stares out at you from every picture and every time you look in the mirror you can see yourself decomposing on that side and so you stop looking in the mirror? How would it feel to believe you have a wolf living inside you that will jump out and eat your daughter if you don’t hold your breath. How would it feel if your psychiatrist’s daughter who is the same age as you and suffers from the same condition  hangs herself and you believe you caused it by being near your doctor?

Second: The Mania. At one point I was sending my husband who was trying to run a newsroom 50 to 60 texts a day about Hitler and Goebbels and the Holocaust and whether or not it was real and white supremacy and the percentage of ash found in the gas chambers. I was texting him pictures of dead jews and articles claiming they were fabricated. I kept asking him over and over is this real is this true this can’t be true. I would pace and clean and take Alice all over town (she literally had no idea and thought I was just fun hyper mommy. The thought of what was really going on still terrifies me to this day.) I would take Alice over to my girlfriend’s house and let her watch cartoons while I did all of her dishes for her. On weekends I would garden until it started getting dark out which for an Alaskan summer is quite late. Nick and Alice would press their faces against the glass wondering when mommy would ever decide to come inside. I would stay awake for hours, long after everyone had gone to sleep my mind racing. I would go online and read about aliens, genetic engineering, ancient Egypt, serial killers, celebrities, Isis. I became obsessed with Isis, terrified they were coming any day. I started reading everything I could sometimes crying hysterically wondering how anyone could do anything with this horror in the world. I was angry all the time. I would fight with my girlfriends, yell at my kids, fight with my husband, even my mom. I lost more than a few relationships during that time. I have easily forgiven myself. I was sick. whoever can’t accept that doesn’t belong in my life anyways.

Third: The Depression. Quite literally you become so tired from battling the symptoms which come and go, because it’s important to note there would be long stretches where I would be fine or at least appear fine. Especially if I was hypomanic which is this lovely little land where you’re the life of the party, your house is always clean, you have boundless energy for your children and you’re the funnest, funniest, sexiest wife ever. It’s a lie and it doesn’t last of course. Friendships made during a hypomanic phase are as false and fleeting as dead leaves in the wind. So to feel that energy start to slip away yet AGAIN is just heartbreaking. You also become tired of the medication merry-go-round. The trial and error of this and that other drug. The litany of different doctors, each with their own theory on why you are so broken and will not be fixed as if it were under your control. You become tired of the side effects or as part of the side effects. You stop eating or you eat everything in sight, mine happened to be the latter. One drug I took ballooned me up 50 pounds which I have yet to lose. You become quite simply tired and you want a way out. Any way out.

As I have said I am one of the lucky ones. I have one of the brilliant doctors. I have my sanity back. I have my friendships back, at least the ones that matter, and the gift of knowing they love me unconditionally. I have the full support of my family who are healthy and working with me through my recovery. I am safe, my children are safe. I have my life back. I could write volumes about my life before I found the doctor who saved me and the people who cared for me at my worst and I will. But for now I’ll leave you with another poem that I feel speaks to the commonalities between all of us.


To the mother who’s son brought a gun to school today I say I love you.

To the mother who’s son steals cash from her wallet to feed his habit and tears from her eyes to wash his soul clean, I say it’s okay to feel abandoned by God.

To the mother who’s son was expelled from school for selling amphetamines to classmates on school grounds, I say it’s NOT ALL YOUR FAULT.

To the mother who’s son never calls, never writes and never cares I say I CARE about you even if HE doesn’t.

To the mother who’s son sits behind bars facing charges of sexual misconduct, domestic abuse and assault I say you’re not alone, it only seems that way….

To the mothers of vandals, thieves, rapists and killers I say you can hold onto the scent of his head when they laid him in your arms. It’s okay to love a broken child. It’s okay to know he’ll never be what he could have been and love him anyways.

To the mother who has yet to give birth to her son I say love him but not so much that if he chooses to drown, you are pulled under the waves. Love him but not so much that you forget to love his father. Love him because he is your baby without expectation.
The only joy guaranteed you is that first moment of his existence, the sound of his cry, the sight of his little fist with its tiny wrinkled fingers. Rejoice in your ability to create life. Hope for his happiness. Expect to be disappointed in some way. Accept that love was never meant to be a painless endeavor. On the contrary it rips us from our couches and thrusts us into the fevered beating heart of existence, pummeling us with awful truths and vivid dream deaths, ultimately haunting us with the notion that we are truly powerless in its wake.

To the mothers of brutally broken boys and men I say you are not so different from me. What divides us is only the hands we are dealt, the circumstances of our losses and how well we can hold onto our goodness while our worlds crumble and our hopes fade. Beneath our skin we are all the same.

Down deep we are all just bones.

Kimkoa 2017

Ballerina Cat Part Deux

So Alice had turned from a cat into a dog and “Grandmommy” had had enough of the whole situation and announced “I’m taking the dog out” so it was me and my little terrier. I’m sure you can imagine what happened next. Yes, I was saved by the beautiful sound of my husband’s voice “I’m home!”

“Daddy!” Alice yelled stumbling down the stairs past me.

“Take them! Gotta go!” He threw several grocery bags at me and disappeared into the bathroom. Not exactly the welcome I was expecting but at least he was home. I figured he either really “had to go” or he “had to hide” (yes I have banged on the door more than once and yelled I know you’re hiding in there watching youtube!) either way eventually he’d be swinging Alice around in no time and getting her ready for bed so I could finish my quiche in peace. Maybe even peek at Facebook.

“I want Daddy!” Alice sulkily muttered, sitting in the hallway outside the bathroom.

“Daddy will be out in a minute, do you want to watch Dora on Grandma’s laptop?”

“Dora!” Alice yelled with the same joy she had yelled Daddy moments ago and minutes later she was happily learning Spanish from a cartoon character while I grated parmesan cheese into a bowl of eggs from the neighbor. They were actually really gorgeous, it was my first time seeing fresh chicken eggs from someone’s backyard. Blue, pink, red, green; it was like making quiche out of easter eggs.

While I was marveling over my bowl of eggs and cheese my husband came up the stairs and into the kitchen. I ran over to him and hugged him around the neck. “I’m so glad I’m not the only parent here anymore.” I told him happily.

“I don’t feel good.” uh-oh. “I made a bad choice.” This isn’t good. “There was this Mexican food at the food court that looked ok…I need to lie down.” Oh crap. Literally.

“Ok that sucks. We’re totally running late tonight and I was hoping you could get Alice going on her bedtime routine. She already ate dinner, mom and I are having this quiche if I ever finish it.”

“Yeah ok, just give me a few minutes.”

“Daddy I want to play. Let’s play” Alice ran over and wrapped herself around My husband’s knees.

“Daddy doesn’t feel good and it’s time to get ready for bed.”Nick (my husband) sounded weak with fatigue and perhaps…fear? (My daughter is one to be feared when angered. This is not an exaggeration.)

“NO!!!” Alice ran back to Dora feeling slighted.

“Go lay down I’ll bring her down after I get this in the oven.” He turned and went down the stairs and while I finished my quiche and Alice finished night school, Grandma made it home. Quiche in the oven I brought a reluctant but listening (she always listens better when Grandma is there) child downstairs to Daddy who was able to perk up enough to work his bedtime routine magic on her which is not always the case as my next blog post will reveal. (A teaser is her insisting on brushing her teeth with her mittens on.)

While I ate quiche with my mom I thought about how lucky I was to not have to do all of this alone. It was not that long ago that we lived in Anchorage and Nick worked 12 hours a day 7 days a week and Grandma was an hour away. Although Nick still commutes our lives are a million times less stressful. After cleaning up and wishing each other goodnight I went downstairs to check on my little ballerina cat, saying a silent prayer for my sons in Oregon as I always do. Nick was laying on the pull-out couch, Alice’s door shut. I opened it and walked over to her just for that high of baby breathing sweaty head wonderfulness. I kissed her and shut the door.

Since Nick and I are still in the process of moving into my mom’s house here in the valley  we haven’t set up our bedroom yet and are technically  living in two houses. So for now our bedroom is the downstairs living room which I actually don’t mind because of the remote control fireplace that left to my own devices I would use to melt the wall. It just feels so good! However you have to pay for that sort of thing so I restrain myself. For the most part.

“So are we watching Age Gap Love?” I asked Nick who was sleepily watching poker on his phone.

“Yep if that’s what you want.” He reached over and grabbed the tv remote.

“It’s just so oddly intriguing. Some of them are sweet and some of them are creepy and gross.”

“I agree.” He turns on the show and we watch weird tv by the light of the fire in the Alaskan winter darkness and say goodnight to another long day.


What once was Me

Once upon a time I was beautiful
My skin was dark and shining and my hands were strong
I had eyes the color of ashes and wind
My legs curved and my back was like iron
Once upon a time I was immense
Each rebellious curl on my head was a voice and my mane was a symphony
My breath filled my chest and spilled out before me tasting of honey and grass
I smelled of wine
and wicked earth
Once upon a time I was precious
Each beat of my heart was a warm glittering thunder flashing and fading in the darkness
My life-force was an electric
My spirit was a mountain
My memories were swift and gentle birds

Kimkoa 2017


Ballerina Cat

Well, here goes…
I’ve never written a blog before. I’ve written poetry, good poetry. I’ve written text-rants to my sister and made her laugh so hard she almost dropped her baby (too much? “she almost dropped her coffee” there, feel better?) Anyways she text-yells at me write a blog!
     So here I am, writing a blog and it feels very weird because I’m supposed to be sleeping and I’m writing on an iPhone with a cracked screen that I can’t afford to fix for various and assorted reasons I will go into someday. So I can’t see that well, plus tonight was ridiculous anyways because I was making quiche which was taking forever and my mom was playing with my daughter who was being a cat. Things were rolling along sort of when my mom, affectionately known as Grandmommy by my 4 1/2 year old daughter (the half is EXTREMELY important) suddenly stood up and said “I can’t take this anymore will you please turn back into a child?!” And Alice, that’s my daughter’s name (yes I named her after Alice in Wonderland because I am awesome) just kept meowing at her until she gave up and was mama cat for like 15 more minutes and then she was REALLY done. She told Alice to pick another game or she wasn’t going to play with her anymore. So of course Alice started barking at her. My mom said “I give up.” I said “She’s a method actor, she likes to stay in character.”
     Now of course this whole time she was dressed in pink tights, a black leotard and a tutu like the most adorable baby ballerina you ever saw. Ironically she was kicked out of ballet for pretending to be a cat; crouching in the corners and meowing and hissing at the other dancers. Of course she dances perfectly with Emma from The Wiggles. Hey, your kid learns their way, my kid learns from the happy Australians on my television set. It’s a free country. Sometimes she’s a ballerina and sometimes she’s a cat. Sometimes she’s a ballerina cat. Sometimes she’s a cat for a whole day and that’s when I find I myself have forgotten how to form complete sentences. Well, this is only the first half of my evening, and truly a teaser! For the next bit you’ll have to check out my second post. Trust me, it’s well worth the effort.
So as those who know me will tell you I am a writer and mom of 3 diagnosed with bipolar 1 with psychotic features. My mission in life is to eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness. As part of each post I will be including a poem that I feel reaches through the void of falsehood and touches the realm of the heart. God bless.
The shells I pick up are bits of who I was.
This expanse of beach with its white, twisted limbs and water rounded rocks is the vast and lonely world my mind has become.
I gather the bits of shell and bramble, desperate to build the husk I used to wear. That they all wear.
I plaster a smile across the face of it thinking there’s no way they won’t notice this shabby, thrown together version of me with its wide fake smile: my teeth too white, my lips too red; cracking at the corners.
But I’m wrong.
I leave the desolate beach of my mind and it’s as if that husk reassures them.
They greet my clown face with their own false cheer. Can it be that no one notices I am a collection of forgotten, broken beach glass and fragments of shells cast off by creatures freer than I’ll ever be?
I try to focus on their words but all I can see are their jaws moving and their teeth like angry warnings.
I am suddenly hit by the ugliest truth: what I see is nothing more than their cobbled husks and I can see past it into a well of confusion and fear.
Their teeth give it away. Angry, rebellious. Cruel.
So I run. I run away from their fake leering curiosity masked as concern. I run, my chest heaving, the shells and glass breaking away and crashing to the frozen, unyielding earth. I run until I can see the beach. The beach of my mind.
I run tripping over sticks, cutting my naked feet on broken shells and rocks. Then I stop. My husk a distant memory. Like a snake I have shed my skin and I stand there naked and new under the cold sun watching the waves crashing against each other, the delicate sea foam riding the water’s crest.
I marvel at the beauty of this moment. My feet bleeding into the cold sand. The pools of red waking the dead ground. I race forward and jump into the waves leaving only red footprints.
I am a mermaid.
Kimkoa 2018