Reader Submission: Laura Boyle

This month's reader submission comes from Laura Boyle (she/her). We decided to share three poems as we think they all complement each other so well (plus her photography is gorgeous!). Enjoy!

[Image description: a female figure is stood in front of the ocean. The sky is light blue and the sun is setting in the back.]

Healing is a lake, and it’s a cold November day.
I feel the sand part beneath me as I stand on that border,
That static purgatory of liminality makes me shiver
Pre-emptively; I can’t dive in.
I feel the water steal the warmth of my brave toes;
Frightened, I recoil like a grasshopper, springing back onto solid ground.
The perpetual, vast wetness is the stillest whirlpool I’ve ever seen.
The anchorage of hope tugs me in,
The torso is the worst part;
In feverish anticipation of the icy pain that begets the numbness,
I hesitate, searching for hands to pull me in.
The only hand that grabs back is my reflection.
The sky fills my ears and the clouds enter my lungs as I reteach myself how to
I’m an amphibian, cold-blooded; I just forget it sometimes.
I’m spinning upside-down in water or air,
Head hit by an asteroid, feet throbbing, disoriented.
Am I flying, or am I simply surrounded by the damp, frosty reflection
Of the blotted sky?
I wish I could jump in the cerulean water head-first,
But for now, I’m taking tentative steps into the unknown,
Drowning until I believe I can swim.

Healing is a lake, and one day I will be the Loch Ness Monster.

[Words from the author: ""Amphibian" is a poem I wrote about the healing process from a tough few years in my life. It's about being terrified of the healing process, while still being resilient and unapologetic. I made the ending point to the future to show the hope required of any mental journey."]

[Image description: image of an overgrown tree. Not much of the sky is visible, but the small proportion that is, is blue with clouds.]

A Pleasant Lake
It was a pleasant lake
Weeping willows, tangled manes,
Dancing in circles with clouds and wind,
Coated in the soft green twinge
Of the small sky’s fuzzy embrace.
The ducks swim endlessly,
In ceaseless rings, relentlessly,
I pluck a flower from the moss
O’ poor petals, I can only watch
As I crush their white tongues helplessly.
Virescent sky is now a bowl,
Suffocated, I punched a hole
In the plastic firmament above,
Feeling the moon crumble to dust,
My fist sends stars screaming, I can’t console
Myself, I’m tumbling down,
I scream, the noise too dense to make a sound
I fly, paralyzed as the wet air
Clings shamelessly to my wet hair,
Disgraced, I sulk in my Dirt Gown.
I fly, I fall through winter’s haze,
In stalwart orbits, the ducks still laze
I land on Earth, that great glass ball,
My dress is torn from my grand fall,
In rising moonlight’s silvery air, my clumsy fingers graze
The blood on the bark the blood
On the bark, the willows whip
Their necks and thrash as I feel handprints, smeared with the blood
On the bark, Bark said the dog who chased
Police chase police chase chasing me have to run to
Run away from town, town is too small, small gun small
Trigger finger trigger finger on the cold barrel
Of wine of blood Jesus
Turned the wine into blood that screamed like the willows with the
Blood on the bark thrashing and crying and blood on the bark
I jump I feel the cold cold mud I feel the blood, blood

In the lake the trees all over me, dead
Fish dead water dead man dead on time time time no more
Time in the lake
I sank,
I sank,
I sank.
It was a pleasant lake.

[Words from the author: "This is a poem that I originally wrote as a short story, based on a prompt that asked me to write from the perspective of someone who just killed someone without revealing explicitly what they did. It sounds graphic, I know, but it's really more about their complex mental state as they snap in and out of peace. The end is an overwhelming crescendo of guilt. I really just wanted to explore the strange nature of the brain."]

[Image description: Laura has taken this image from inside her car. On the right hand side, in the top corner, we can see Laura wearing a hooded coat and holding her phone from the car's wingmirror. Behind the car wingmirror, we see a beautiful view of mountains and a lake.]

You are
Vulnerable, lace-twinged, and crystal-coated,
Yet raucous enough to knock my mind off its salwart orbit;
You unravel me from my fringes like a loose thread.

Your smile,
According to your mother, is oversized,
Like the sweater on your nightstand that still holds the scent of time passed,
Forlorn, threadbare, heavy with the weight of antiquity.

Your attention settles
Inside the ruptures and cracks of my unporcelain skin,
Sewing me until I’m lying silver-lined like a rag-doll,
Pulled apart and bundled back together again at your every whim.

You could unmask
The crystalline frost in the sun’s swollen black heart,
And compel Nietzche to emphatically proclaim the significance of
Life, that great purgatory.

You make my heart
Creak like wood under the weight of a rusty mailbox that
Sends lost love letters and letters of love lost to that invisible liminal space,
That forbidden gilded gateway between adoration and absolute obliteration.

You coax me,
Like a December breeze on a July day,
Giving me whiplash as you pry me from monotony’s cold, grey hands,
Paralyzed in the perfection of that last fatal summer moment.

Your words destruct
And reconstruct the brittle conglomeration
Of raised guards, broken promises, and heartaches,
Turning the rubble into toppling turrets of trust issues that
Play lookout for the convulsing, furiously pumping Red inside.

Your touch smarts
Delicately, like a paper cut searing through the weathered surface of a well-worn thumb,
A wound that coats itself like liquor, seizing the fierce sting, sending it away,
To a cowardly place hiding behind the fa├žade of love.

You could
Set Neptune ablaze.

Your soliloquies could
Shove stones shining silver off the exalted altar,
And dig a single dull rock out of all the incandescent luster,
And take the minds of the vultures off of scavenged bones, away from Hamlet’s broken skull.

Your love resists
Falling into my outstretched arms,
Only to stick to me glutinously; I am the host of this parasite of pleasure.

I leave
The grave-site of our love and move on into gentler woods,
I follow that dappled, plucked lute-string of chance, or of design,
Of that elusive, capital-T Thing that tempts my blood from its tepid cave,
And pushes my unrelenting mind, that inexhaustible, inexorable steamship,
Off the anchorage chaining it to routine and complacency;
I confront time’s tumultuous tempests, and await the final cadence of the Church Organ in spring.

[Words from the author: ""Deadish" is a poem that my subconscious wrote. I just let my pen move as words tumbled out onto the page. I then spent a long time moving words, punctuation, and lines, reading it out loud over and over and over again until it just felt "right." Oftentimes when I write, a similar process ensues; I find myself expressing emotions I didn't even know I was feeling. It's so therapeutic. This poem follows the journey of someone slowly realizing and beginning to accept that her lover is toxic. The lover's power is undeniable, for better or for worse, and their love is exciting, illogical, and unsustainable. It's like the platitude of the flame that burns too intensely."]

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