“I can’t believe you guys are moving in a few months.”
Alex was driving Gemma and Caleb to a
while Forest visited with his grandparents.
“I almost can’t either. But I’m so happy
to be able to raise Forest and this new baby
in a place that feels like we belong.
The mountains have been calling us for some time.
This was never the place for us.”
“I get that.”
“It’s weird we’re all going to be living in separate city’s
once you officially move and I go to University.”
“Wow, I never realized that.”
They drove into the main street and found parking a few blocks away
from the gallery that was hosting the story-telling event.
Back in the hospital,
Gemma wrote something that she used to help her speak normally again.
She spoke her poem
over and over
for hours into the
until her annunciation was close to perfect.
She promised herself right then
that once she was released from the hospital,
she would finally share herself and her
s t o r i e s .
It was almost a year later,
she had a book deal that was underway and was finally attending
and participating in a local poetry-reading event.
“Me too.” Caleb squeezed Gemma’s hand
as they walked together from the car to the gallery.
“I am too. But nervous.”
Caleb pulled her in close to whisper in her ear,
“Your story is important for a lot of people. Share your light.”
And kissed her on the cheek.
Walking down the final block
The tree kindred souls spoke about
mental health and healing.
“Did you read the link I sent you, by the way?”
Gemma asks her brother.
“Yes, so eye-opening.
What a Shaman sees in a
psychiatric ward, especially the difference
in bi-polar and schizophrenic
patients in western countries
and the rest of the world…
because of how self-deprecating
and fear based our society is,
people suffer more.
The fact that many symptoms of
Bipolar and psychosis
bear the exact sings of a
It’s crazy that instead of working with the experience,
we try to shut it down completely.”
“It’s insane. I know medication
is very necessary in certain cases of mental
health. And there’s most definitely no shame
in healing ourselves through medicine if we feel that is our path.
But there’s definitely a lot more to be
explored in people experiencing mental health issues
or psychotic symptoms.
Meditation has helped
my healing immensely.
I just think there is so much still to learn,
and how can we do that if we just
stifle our experiences and remain frightened of them?
A big step forward in that exploration will be
to end the negative stigma attached to mental health.
For everyone to be comfortable with opening up to
talk about their feelings and experiences without judgement.
And then to listen to these people with an open mind,
without making them feel sick.
This will be a good way to start raising awareness
and collective consciousness.
The physical reality is not the only reality.”
“Well,” Caleb says, opening the door to the gallery,
“Let’s start now.”
It was nearly starting time for the event, and so the main room was already filled with bodies.
Conversation was vibrant and it made everyone seem
c o l o r f u l
against the plain white walls and floor.
A young man stepped to the center of the wall that everyone was facing.
Slowly, speaking became hushed and everyone was
s i l e n t .
“Welcome everyone and thank you
So much for being a part of this event!
We’re looking to expand the art and culture
in our little city, and these gatherings are
a beautiful step in doing so. So for those here
for the first time, I’m Clint, I co-ordinated this event.
I will announce each story teller in the order which
everyone singed-up. There’s still a sheet at the door
to write your name if your suddenly feeling inspired
to share tonight. So without further ado, I welcome
Brittany Collins to the, well, not the stage, the wall I suppose.”
A small ring of laughter circulated the room.
The energy was energetic and
c o n t a g i o u s .
Gemma felt a rush hearing the
stories and rhymes being shared.
A room full of people with only one person speaking at a time,
And somehow the connection between every body was
m a g n i f i e d
in the quiet.
When she heard her name come from Clint’s mouth,
her heart began to race.
It had been years since she even spoke in public,
let alone share her writing.
Everyone remained silent as she made her way to the white wall
and looked into the faces with stared back at her.
Without thinking, she began in a moment-
“Once upon a time,
we were young.
We were wild things belonging to nature.
We were curious creatures,
creatures of light,
dreamers and weavers,
When we were young
we were told that the world was at our finger-tips,
instead of the truth, which is that
worlds lay within them.
That, in our blood, instead of cells
swim s t a r s
belonging to the many galaxies alive in our skin.
like the Universe,
we are still
But we’re told to have more
rather than to be more-
Or at least be us
instead of making ourselves bleed more.
When we were young
we were inventors who believed in
w i s h e s,
shooting-stars and adventures.
We were not yet deprived of the light
that shows us who we really are to each other-
one bound to the other.
We were not yet polluted,
our minds not yet moulded,
we were not yet
When we were young
we didn’t question our own beauty.
We saw it in ourselves
and in others.
Untouched my human cruelty,
our thoughts were
f r e e
to form and release with conviction and ease.
Our bodies were our own,
not touched and changed
From children to grown-ups
like sinners trying to own up to
the lies and the faults of ancestors passed
instead of forging our own stories
and choosing our own paths.
We are told
over and over
who to be,
who to love,
how to think,
as we grow older
we disconnect from one another-
eyes outward instead of inward,
chanting ‘we are free!’
Whilst unknowingly being
shackled and bound,
unable to flee
or even just
So please tell me, how my dreams have turned to dust
and my love to rust?
How has my soul turned so cold?
How did I come to hate my body as I grew old?
And how can I go back to the way I once was,
without spilling stars
from hating this self and everything she does.
B r e a t h e .
Un-cage and undo me,
all that has been done.
Unravel and reveal myself
brighter than the sun.
Wake my sleeping bones
and set my soul on fire.
Feel my heart beat slow and fast
with steadfast desire
for all this earth-side life has to teach
and to tell
to my aching spirit
that knows me so well.
So I call on you to take my hand,
carry who you can!
Build your castles up
and leave no song unsung.
Live the life you always imagined-
when you were young.”
When she finished, Gemma became acutely aware that her
body was shaking as the people in front of her began to cheer and
clap as they did for everyone.
Gemma felt a
r u s h
she hadn’t felt in a long time,
confirming that this was her calling.
She had a story to share,
a way to
c o n n e c t
and fulfill her longing to help
have always been my
i n s p i r a t i o n .
Are the suns’ golden
b e a m s .
He was an
O r a c u l a r and c a t h a r t i c
that had come to her in the night.
One that held an
i m m o r t a l r a d i a n c e .
Her small, rather dispirited heart was quite lit up by joy and
as he piled onto her.
Passion’s raw self stirred an absence of pain so that only
i n e r a d i c a b l e f i r e
and m a g i c
remained between them.
They tasted the whole of the ethereal experience as it lay open to them-
the way the mountains which called to them did-
b o u n d l e s s ,
The grand intimacy of it all...
the deliberate wandering,
the loss of breath...
the slow ritual of embraces was like a savage storm
and they were left trembling with delight when it was over.
She lifted her eyes, looking at up at him with such frank admiration,
i n t o x i c a t e d and c o n s u m e d by him.
He met her eyes steadily,
a sort of madness on both of them...
There they laid softly together in the quiet of the early morning
m o o n l i g h t :
completely enthralled by their own passion.
They were unaware that they were bound by their own fervour,
breathing the very air of better things ahead.
Caleb finally turned over to search the floor for something,
came back up and lit a cigarette.
They watched each other carefully but did not speak until Caleb was
about half way through his smoke.
“You are a strange anomaly.”
He said to her.
“I am not,”
she sunk herself further into him and sighed,
“I am like other girls, and I want what they do.”
He blows the smoke from his cigarette slowly,
and even in the dark she could see that he was amused.
“Oh yea? What’s that?”
He laughed and it rang
t h r o u g h h e r ,
making her feel passionately and poetically curious for him.
It was September when she first saw him...
a pretty mystery who appeared out of the blue.
He had trackless, vague ways
and she felt herself turn crimson at the mere sight of him.
She would spend magic hours gazing with interest
into his infinitely
m y s t i c m i n d ,
studying the way beauty flowered within him like emerging stars.
How she loved
h o v e r i n g
inquiringly into his mind of ancient beauty –
from which man was made and was always undoing
by denying the gentle laws of nature.
She felt the charm and sorrow in his soul-
that it was made from
s t a r d u s t ,
She felt an unusual thrill of excitement
when she thought of him on those many sleepless nights-
a fire which quite made up for her quiet little life.
But fear hovered there in struggle with flames and curiosity;
a certain melancholy brooding over all.
d y n a m i c
while she was
c a p r i c i o u s
and the crash of such natures was wilder than
heaven and hell colliding.
She could feel herself want something true for the first time in her life,
and such wanting seemed doomed to her.
“I have a feeling about you
and I don’t know what to do about it.”
He looked at her quietly before putting out his cigarette.
He was about to say something but she continued,
“I think this might be it.
The grand romance.”
He seemed puzzled.
“Don’t all grand romances end tragically?”
He shook his head,
" how can we be doomed, if it feels like this,”
He cupped the back of her head,
tangling his fingers through her hair,
lips only a breath apart,
“When I touch you.”
He kissed her sweetly and thoroughly and all she could do was
taste him and his words with untranslatable emotion.
She said in a low whisper,
“You are going to get sick of me.”
He smiled now, looking at her with
wonder and sadness.
She loved that he could be sorrowful and loving at once.
He brought his face close enough to hers so that their noses were touching,
“the things that happen to us may be tragic
but it is important to grasp the presence
of something raw and beautiful enough
with the power to cast out darkness.”
He kissed her again and again, and Gemma marvelled at this seemingly
d r e a m – l i k e w o r l d
she was in when he touched her.
The length and breadth of love
had taken away any need for thoughts of fear,
even if only for a moment.
Where they went would not matter in the end.
The wild ways of lovers
were as many as there were
s t a r s
in the sky
and she could feel that wherever they drifted to,
would lead them to
to p e a c e ,
into grief and adventure
and e t h e r e a l l a u g h t e r .
Are you lonely?
s e e k i n g ?
look to the
s t a r s
q u i e t.
there you are-
s t a r s e e d.