Capturing Cupid’s Wings

I’ve been waiting to write this post for a while because I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to say, but I figured I’d take a stab in the dark, or as I’d prefer to view it, lean in closer to reveal the sight of Cupid with a single lantern.

See, I think it’s one thing to say you believe in miracles and then another entirely to say you’ve co-created a miracle.

Growing up, I used to hear that miracles occurred once in a blue moon — a distant reminder speaking to the mundane origins of our world and our respective lives within it.

Then, I grew up. Even so, as I progressed in my spiritual journey, I still believed in miracles — in synchronicities orchestrated by the divine: a force greater than me, and in some small way related to me.

But I had never experienced the kiss of a miracle before. I charted doves and prayed to candles — to my ancestors, to God and even to some form of a higher power. My tears formed a heart — an answered clarifier to all my questions I imposed, but still, I hadn’t seen it.

I hadn’t seen the elusive miracle latent on my cinema screen.

Until a few weeks ago.

Months ago, I knew I would be going to New York with my best friend. I hadn’t made any plans, had no idea why, but then through a series of shocking, sentimental, challenging events, I came to understand just how miracles come to be.

Because I believe we orchestrate miracles in our lives when we ask for them and when we listen to the signs of the divine. I believe we are of the divine and I believe there is nothing too large, which can compare to the magnitude of our souls.

So, I’ve written this post because I’d like to understand it. I’d like to trace the outlines of a miracle and see what it means once realized in my life.

And I think just this time I’ve traced Cupid’s wings as he departs Psyche’s reaching arms.

Magic in The Secret Garden

Front Cover of The Secret Garden, 1911 US Edition

I’ve been thinking about a statement Mary Lennox declares in The Secret Garden. She says to Colin that if he “make[s] them open the door and take [him] in like that it will never be a secret garden again” (Burnett 130).

In the very beginning of The Secret Garden, Mary keeps the abandoned garden she has recovered a secret primarily because she wants to revive it and she witnesses and recalls herself in this piece of earth.

By tending to the garden, she inadvertently tends to herself and becomes less sullen, gloomy, and alone. Mary finds solace in the bit of earth she cares for as she finds solace and a kind of love in herself.

But, I keep returning to this point of the magic in a secret garden or any secret really. I believe Mary didn’t want to share the secret of the garden because she was afraid she would lose herself in being tender and revealing an undisclosed aspect of herself to another — a familiar, a stranger: her first cousin.

When I think of my own life, I often think of the secret smiles I’ve kept to myself — those memories I’ve shared with only another — a memory no one else will be able to recover.

I think that’s what Mary spoke about at the end of the day.

There’s magic in a secret garden. There’s magic in the parts of ourselves we thought were abandoned but then tended to and watched bloom.

And there’s magic in this ancestry and me and you.

Can I Be Candid With You?

I’ve been contemplating this tarot reading I did for a quick glance at the year ahead and how when I arrived at these cards they made no sense.⁣

In December, I was confused in many regards. The future appeared uncertain and insurmountable to me. I felt like it had power over me — a restless wind and I was a Paper sail to be spun about by its whims. ⁣

I stared at these cards, asking what meaning they had to impart to me. Who was I? And what power did these cards have over me in my life and endeavor for meaning?⁣

Months later, I arrived at a new understanding of meaning for myself and my soul as we arrive at the conclusion of 2021 in nearly three months.⁣

Crazy to believe, isn’t it?⁣

Every decision I made has led me to this moment of unfolding. This moment of courage. This moment of creativity — to say, ah yes, here I am.⁣

This time, I can be Candid with you.

Goodbye (Hello) Leaves More Leaves

Goodbye (Hello) — my first full-length poetry collection is now officially out in hardcover as well.

For those readers who would love to add more leaves to their collection or enjoy the crisp feeling of a hard paperback, in their collection, consider the feeling of adding this lofty leaf to your collection.

I, personally, love the feeling of a hardcover book in my collection. There’s a feeling of antiquity about it as I keep a copy of my favorite books in hardcover. Plus, let’s be real here, when I really desire a back (back in the old days when I was a child; imagine that!?) I used to purchase books I truly desired in hardcover first because consumerism forced me to.

In this manner, I collected many many books in hardcover before the soft cover release a year later.

Luckily enough, this isn’t a requirement for you. Perhaps, it’s a matter of some consumerism (as most matters are these days), but it is also a choice in pleasure.

So, enjoy this new leaf I’ve gathered for you.

Goodbye (Hello)

Fallen Astrophyllite: Recovered Purpose

Yesterday, the stone for one of my favorite rings inset with Astrophyllite fell out. I knew right then and there exactly what this meant for me within my life.

When I purchased this ring years ago, I craved for my purpose — to realize it within this life of my own. In that time, I imagined my purpose to be something greater than me. How wrong was I to conceive this.

All along, years later, I realize now that my purpose has always been within me — an effervescent spark in the dark guiding and reminding me of my home.

It all begins with me and then ripples out to you, my friend.

So, despite the sentimentality I hold with this ring, it’s time to let it go and find another ring, which serves me in my purpose now that I’ve remembered home: a place filled with words and words and words, which I intend to write for the rest of my life.

Pressing Publish

Today marks the official release of my Dad’s novel: Retrieval. I feel honored to hold space for my Dad and have been incredibly honored to make my Dad’s lifelong dream a reality.

In July, I decided to publish my first full-length poetry collection. This action, in turn, inspired my Dad to pursue his dreams and make them a reality. With my help with digital know-how and formatting, I helped my Dad finally hit that publish button yesterday and I can’t tell you how humbling that feels.

I’ve been mulling over these feelings for quite some time, so I thought I’d put them to the page now. I can’t tell you how honored I feel to have inspired another to go after their dreams after years of conceding to the whims of the traditional publishing industry who deemed my Dad’s manuscript not worthy.

For many years, I was in a similar boat as my father. I thought I would never publish if I couldn’t walk through the golden gates of traditional publishing.

And yet, here we both are now, victorious, with our words written on the page and now in your hands.

Thank you.

A Multitude of Drops

Anne Birch by George Romney — My favorite painting at the Phoenix Art Museum

The last time I was at the Phoenix Art Museum with my friend, I was at odds with myself and the hundreds of years of creation isolated between the art museum’s walls.

I kept thinking to myself, why me? Why did I choose to be creative in this life when I am constantly reminded of the usefulness of other paths and careers.

At that time, I bemoaned my creativity — wished to be different, in fact. If only I could live a life in pursuit of something technical or scientific, I kept saying.

Now, a few months later, my perspective has radically changed. How lucky I am to live this life — to create art and share it with you, the stranger from a near-far distance.

How lucky I am to be the amalgamation of all the artists and creators who came before me. How lucky I am to live a life where my words can create a ripple in the ocean.

“Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops,” David Mitchell writes in his masterpiece of a novel, Cloud Atlas. And how true he is.

I’ve been thinking of those who’ve been considered the literary greats — Walt Whitman, Bram Stoker, Sappho, Emily Dickinson; the list continues on ad infinitum.

I’ve been thinking of how Whitman spoke of equality — of Bram Stoker’s candid declarations of affection to Whitman and how anyone, including you, can touch someone with your words.

I think it’s rather lovely to hold this space for you, whoever you may be, across this liminal space. My words may not be pressed between a physical page, but I believe they’ve touched someone in the ether.

And in the end, that’s worth it.

Thank you.

-Ilyssa

Oceanic Memories in Art

I’ve been thinking lately about my legacy in these poems and words I press to the page.

One of my favorite musicians, Zella Day, once spoke to the oceanic nature of her songs and how in time she will collect a catalogue of pressed moments, which she can return to any time.

Now, as I near the next poem of my life, I think fondly back on the catalogue I’ve created thus far within my poetry. It’s rather beautiful how I can return to any poem I’ve written, or any work for that matter, and find something new every time.

In the end, this is what I love about art in all its multifaceted forms. I love how artists show up for their art every day. I love how people can find some new interpretation in the words, which I press to the page (and the words you may press to the page).

I love how I can go to an art gallery and connect so viscerally with a portrait painted hundreds of years ago. And I love how I can meet you in this hour, without ever touching you in the physical realm.

That’s why I show up every day in my life. That’s why I show up in my art.

I do it because that’s what it means to live well and to preserve a moment in time for eternity.

Unexpected Leaves at TSA

This morning, as I made my way to the airport, I was in a rush, surrounded by metallic drab grays and blues with insincere faces and the imminent will of the clock speeding me up.

I reached for my great grandmother’s gold necklace and fixed it onto my neck, combatting a headache and a sleepy daze, which I hadn’t been able to shake since last night.

I’m going home, I kept thinking.

As I rifled through my pockets at the TSA station, I discovered this memento I stowed away days ago from Yosemite Park. Instantly, it brought a smile to my face and made me remember, just like that, the divinity of this moment.

I’ll close off this note by wishing you well on your journey. Make sure you pack spare leaves and mementos as you traverse the darkest corners and emerge brilliant and golden with everything to show for it.

-Ilyssa

Life as a Meditation

There is no rush. Life is a meditation.

This afternoon, after waving goodbye to my third-grade class, I wrote these lines on my lesson plan.

I’ve been thinking about what it means to live life truly and how, even I, have been contemplating my next move: What will I publish next? Where will my next gem come from? I’ve been in such a rush that I haven’t stopped to smell the roses.

Today, I realized how being so focused on the next moment has stopped me from sitting with the magnitude of what I’ve done in the last three months alone. I’ve published my first chapbook and my first full-length poetry collection. Why, then, can’t I sit with this accomplishment and celebrate all that I have accomplished in such a short amount of time?

What pushes me to push forward — to contemplate, to strike away at a new meditation before it is the right time to do so?

I believe there’s a number of reasons (societal and otherwise for this), but I’ll refrain from that long interlude and remain present, here and now with you.

When I graduated from college and completed my undergraduate thesis, a dear friend spoke to me about how we couldn’t just sit with our achievements and marvel in them all; we had to constantly be onto “the next big thing” as we moved forward in our educations. Suffice it to say, I fell guilty to this same phenomenon because I couldn’t just sit with my words in the silence.

I think all the world’s problems would be solved if we just sat with our silence.

So, I think I shall sit in silence for a little while until the muse strikes me once again.