survivor in my heart at nautilus teachings


mothers suitcase
mothers suitcase

1960‘s-In the closet, small cracks in the steps allow little tiny rays of light to creep through.There is a light bulb in the highest part of the closet. I turn on the glowing guide with a long, ashen string. It never lights up much of the small, cornered closet, under the red wooden steps. The closet is full of warmth in the winter. I always turn the light on and pretend it is the sun shining through a fault in the cave walls allowing in fresh air and new wondrous colors.
In the back of this closet are wooden shelves for my mom’s monochromatic high heeled shoes. I love going in the back amongst her clothes to try them on. I can spend hours in there. It is safe. IT IS MY WORLD.
Her shoes remind me of caps on markers. When she has them on, all her colors have to spring from her brown hair and long fingers. When she takes them off, her colors emit from her toes and give out rays of sunshine to keep her warm in her little bed with the thin blanket, in the front of the house, across the street from Bishops Park.
The colors
I see in my head
are extensions
of my mother
I paint with them
on my canvases
that I am all
grown up
It’s like placing
scattered puzzle pieces
of her
like sharing
her goodness
and warmth
with the world.
2007-Studio-I feel my mothers hands saving me, holding me, combing my hair, holding my hand. I place a face one can barely see more than the eyes peering from behind glasses she wore as she aged. I want the hands to be the focus. For people to know what a gift touch is. I remember my mothers hands holding me when the news of her own mother’s death came from stomach cancer. I think about her hands holding my father some 5 years later when his brother succumbed to colon cancer. My mother’s hands were powerful and my colors must send this message.
I did take my black and white teddy bear who still sits in my room to this day, on a chair beside my bed protecting me. I pretend I am the ruler of my own world. I sing to my “babies”; I cry sometimes. Mostly this is a good place because it is mine. My brothers are forbidden in my mom’s and dad’s closet.
In the closet
I wanted to stay
I did not need friends
to play
I wanted to look up
Straight into God’s light
And listen to HIS stories
So I could feel right
I always felt dirty
I always felt scared
And when I was alone
I was never prepared
To be tortured by brothers
Who should love me back
On the sofa bed
They began their attack…
When I was 7, I got to move upstairs to one of the bedrooms because my oldest brother left for college. The wooden, cornered closet under the cracked, red stairs really becomes my safe haven because now the demons sleep next door to me. In order for me to get to the cornered closet I have to run fast down the red wooden steps.
Way up high I get to sleep
In a super big room
Where you can’t hear a peep
My door has no lock
I sleep next to the wall
Knowing if my brothers enter
That I can fall
Between blankets and babies
Straight to the floor
Hiding under my bed
Til they walk out the door
Only they outsmart me
And begin to pull
My hands and feet
Until I feel sore
And cry into the night
Til my mother
Runs through the door…
The cornered closet is my ocean. I am the mermaid. It is where I drop to my knees and pray to God, “Please, please let me turn into a fish so I can swim far, far away…” I tell God everything about my brothers who torture me. How I have to paint black lines around all my colors so they can not wash them away or smear their muted brown and black ugliness into them.
One day when I was 5
he did just that
For a split second I was allowed
to fly up into the bright whites
silvers and pale yellows
and meet God
He wraps me
in his protective love
and sends me back
I am in the lavender room
at the time the cracked incident occurred
When my soul splits in half
like a fault in the earth
and I am torn in two
right outside the small angled closet
I am singing “Jesus loves me…”
at the time
and just as my tiny, pink hand
reaches for the crystal clear knob
before I can make it to my safe haven
of extraordinary color
and calming smells,
the lavender door swings open
and my brothers
are standing there
in their striped shirts
and plaid shorts
with worn out sneakers
my world goes black and all my colors
shoot up to heaven
while the frail paleness
of what is me
lie on the ground
like broken colored glass.
2007-Studio-I step back and gaze at the beauty before me. Flower in hand I feel my mothers softness, strength and can smell her fragrant blossoms once blooming in her garden. Almost finished, I place my hand upon “her hands” which hold the small bouquet of eggshell blue wild flowers. I am placed in memory upon memory of holding her hand as a child, during her sickness and for the last time in death. I grab her eyeshadow blue of my youth and begin in script a word I could only dream would represent her in the stem. While I paint this I think of my friends, cousin and every other woman who has touched my life and is a true – “Survivor.”