“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Letter from the editor
Spring is a powerful time of year for many people in many different ways. There are a lot of big religious holidays during Spring: Easter, Beltane, Ramadan, Passover, Purim, Ostara, and many more. These holidays all involve the celebration of life coming from death. Winter is gone, the darkness is vanquished, and what was once cold and desolate, is now warm and welcoming. Spring is all about the ability to change. The idea that it’s never too late to be someone new. To make a fresh start. To grant one last wish. Make one more miracle. So for the 2019 Spring issue of The Elephant Ladder, our artists have contributed beautiful pieces that all focus on the idea of bloomability. The power to alter yourself or the world around you. This issue is meant to bring hope, and inspire you to pursue your own bloomability.
Molly Likovich (she/her)
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by Kirsten LaMonica
I am breathlessly aware of the person that I am.
With my head tilted up
towards the deep blue of an afternoon sky,
I can feel once again.
I am alive once again.
The soft feel of the green grass beneath my feet
awakens my soul.
My heart is a collection of love
Every time it beats,
Kirsten LaMonica is a 21-year old poet and aspiring Young Adult author, currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature at the University at Albany. She plans to work in publishing after graduation. When Kirsten isn’t writing or reading, she enjoys long hikes and scoping out new cafés for a good cup of coffee.
In Full Bloom
by Maisie Dickson
The outside of the children’s hospital is very crisp and white. You noticed it every time you went into the doctor’s for surgery. It felt like all the color from outside was erased for a blank canvas. However, as you wandered deeper inside the walls, it began to transform into vibrant backdrops, trees, flowers, nature–it felt comforting
No one ever tells you how scary it is for a child to have to go through surgery that will improve their quality of life. There is a mixture of fear, pressure and worry that invades your head, sprouting up like weeds to make you more scared of it than your probably should be.
Spring for you is your favorite season. The flowers bloom. The bright colors and cloudless skies. Having murals of sunflowers, daisies, and roses, all of different colors around you as you got dressed and prepped for surgery, allowed you a little bit of comfort.
As you lay on the bed and the mask is fitted over your face to start the anesthetic, your mom looks down, shielding you like a tree with overarching branches–strong and safe. You drift off slowly. Your vision becomes hazy, until you’re asleep and then hours later, you’re awake, feeling tired and drained.
You stay a few days in a white walled room. The only color is in the curtains. There is the timed beeping of machinery, sort of like bees buzzing around. There is a window a few beds over, and the springs breeze flows past you as your medicine is again administered, and the immense pain in your body fades away with the wind.
Post-surgery recovery mainly involves finding a new way to do basic things, like showering, getting dressed and moving around. You get used to it though, that is, until you finally get your casts removed. There’s a freeing feeling to seeing your legs again, and being able to bend them, even though doctors say not to. You’re given a splint to sleep with as part of your physiotherapy.
You dream of sliding down that grassy hill again with your Pop and Mom, because that was the feeling of being free. Mom says you can do something when you get stronger. When you heal. It gives you something to work towards.
Those memories surface at times when I feel less than. It wasn’t easy to push through everything, from both the external judgement from people I don’t know and self-inflicted doubt that clouds around me.
My sense of identity seems lost in a cloud of thick fog that I have to navigate. I was–navigating the fog that was ever changing, and when I thought I had finally figured out a way to get out, it reshaped and thickened. But when I finally blossomed into my own, accepted things about myself, and my disabilities, the fog lifted. I was able to see myself in a clearer light.
For many years I thought that society’s approval mattered. But since I blossomed into my own, I threw that attitude out.
Society never sees me crawl and push through pain just to walk. To do physiotherapy. To sleep uncomfortably in a splint. To wear inserts in my shoes to help my feet walk straighter. They always see the end result: a happy child in casts. An outspoken teen with a walker, or in a wheelchair. Now, they see a woman who uses her cane proudly.
There is one quote that will always stick with me when I feel like I want to let everything wash over me in despair.
“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.”
People have often told me that they wouldn’t have the strength to live the life that I do. I was always puzzled by this. As if I was given a choice to not be disabled, and chose it anyway.
It was either succumb to the disability or fight and carve out a life with it. I chose to carve my place in the world.
My disabilities are still there, attached to me like vines. But they don’t stop me now that I’m in full bloom.
Maisie Dickson lives in regional NSW. When she’s not reading, drawing, or writing, she’s escaping into a book, with tea in hand.
Kat Ervin is a makeup artist and photographer, hailing from a small town in Maryland. She loves experimenting with fun, new makeup looks, and creating beautiful art. She loves photographing concerts, and when the weather is nice enough, nature and architecture. In her spare time, she can be found with her head in a book, and a cup of coffee in her hand.
“Like wildflowers, you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would.”
If My Facebook Profile Were Honest
by Lauren E. Wilson
after Rudy Francisco
My name is Lauren Ellen Wilson.
I’d like to think that my first name came from the magnificent Bacall.
My middle name is shared with my grandmother’s first name.
And yes I am fully aware of the Dennis the Menace and Castaway jokes.
I’m a Taurus,
so that makes me stubborn and bull-headed.
When I was born
I was two weeks early and have been
perpetually early to everything
my entire life.
I’ve been told I give amazing hugs.
Which is most likely true
since I hold onto things I love
very dearly and tightly.
I can’t let go.
See I sometimes emulate certain
I hold onto things that hurt me–
Like clenching broken glass.
It all started when she died.
I don’t want to lose anyone else.
Maybe that’s why they do it too.
I love retro video games,
I will kick your ass at Mario Kart
and Smash Brothers.
I also love to be outside—
I like hide and seek.
Mainly the hiding part–
see, I like hiding my feelings
behind metaphors or smiling.
I just want to
Scream at the man who
made me afraid (of everything) to hug men,
or afraid of love in general
yet dying for it to the point
I give compliments well and
I always mean what I say.
Probably because I can’t
stand empty words.
(I am a poet after all.)
The irony is that I hate
because I never know what to say
after I say
Maybe it’s because
I have as much self love
as the water at the bottom of
a New York garbage can.
And even that loves itself more than
I love myself because
C’mon it’s New York.
I’m too much of a coward
to join the military but somehow
I earned a purple heart.
It’s from hating myself
to the point of abuse.
It’s from enduring loss.
It’s from all the lumps in my
throat that I’ve swallowed,
all the tears that burned
behind my eyelids,
and men who take advantage of little girls.
I wear it like a badge.
I couldn’t take it off if I tried.
It’s like, a bad tattoo you get and
then try to fix it with more tattoos.
My name is Lauren.
I’ve never held an AR-15
or set foot on foreign soil
but I am a veteran of a war.
It’s a war of my Vesuvian mind,
one where I’m outrunning
molten, scalding thoughts
and volatile habits.
I’m not tired yet though.
So I guess I’ve got work that’s still pending.
Lauren E. Wilson has been writing since she could hold a pen. She started taking it seriously in college and has been writing poetry ever since. She says it is a source of therapy, and a way to feel less alone.
by Michelle Doering
This is a space for you.
It’s blank pages are
daunting to some,
yet you see nothing but
You roam the empty
hallways; mug in hand
and heart in cheek,
assessing, plotting, waiting.
You sow each seed,
carefully constructing each
half-baked, hair-brained idea
until it blossoms into fruition
beneath your cracked and bleeding
You breathe life into these walls;
slowly and deliberately,
not unlike a child learning to walk
for the very first time.
Until one day, this space is no longer yours;
Michelle Doering is a freelance writer, and self proclaimed “cool dude” from sunshine-y Phoenix, Arizona. Her hobbies include reading, soap-making, and over-analyzing everything.
Good Morning, Mother
by Austin Weberly
The cold night air comes
and it stays for far too long.
The cold day air kisses me with
frostbite and frozen tears.
The first rose of
Spring blooms through the
Mother blankets Herself
while She sleeps.
The first rose…
the first sign of hope
that Mother is waking up.
Austin Webberly is in his fourth year at the University of Michigan—Dearborn. He enjoys spending his time writing, reading, and snuggling with his dog.
I Will Bloom Without You
by Kirsten LaMonica
You were never a bad person.
If there’s anything to blame,
it’s my mind.
I dressed you up
and made you into someone you’re not.
I planted false fantasies within my head
but they never grew into anything.
As soon as I realized that there would be no flowers
blooming in this particular garden,
taking my water
and beating heart with me.
by Michelle Doering
This is where my words go when
I have nowhere
else to put them.
After they’ve left my brain and fallen on deaf ears,
or bounced off of
hearts made of steel. I am always so full
of them. Sometimes they just come falling out,
like dandruff flakes on an itchy head.
But the page doesn’t care if I’m giving it gold or garbage.
Either way it is full, where once it was starving.
“Flowers are the music of the ground. From earth’s lips, spoken without sound.”
Special thank you to photographer, writer, and science teacher, Susan Marie Doyle, for being a patron of The Elephant Ladder; thus making it possible for our artists to receive compensation for their work.
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