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)

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

Remembering Yosemite Park

For the last week, I’ve been isolated from all signs of physical connection as witnessed through my cell phone and its reception.

After eight weeks of staring at a phone screen, I was stripped of it all as I traversed Yosemite Park. At first, it was difficult to disconnect from civilization in this regard with no social media, no internet, and no digital map to guide me forward through the unexplored terrain.

Luckily enough, I fared well, requiring only the silence, my feet, my steady breath, and loads of water to make my hike through nature. At the beginning, I found I had no words as I digested the last eight weeks, which passed me in a blur.

And yet, in the silence, I found words within me speaking ever so softly. It had been months since I bled my first poetry collection onto the page. Despite this, I kept wondering what was next for me — what to write, what to create. In my mind, I bought into all these capitalistic, consumptive tendencies even though it’s something I’ve always fought to distance myself from.

“What will I publish next?” This question always lingered on my lips, and as often as I asked it, I returned with nothing to show for the question because I did not have the answer.

And I still don’t.

I don’t know what’s next for me. I think I’m meant to sit on the catalog of poetry I’ve gathered here and continue to write and write until I emerge clearer for the fresh summer air and the silence all around me.

I’ll end this letter with a thank you for the moments of respite I’ve gathered from the Arizona heat.

Thank you, Yosemite.

Charting Passings of 100 Years

Lasted through the weight of the pandemic, succumbed to a flash flood in 2021.

A week ago, the saguaro cactus near where I live fell down. In my neighborhood park, this cactus occupied a strange, archaic in-between when I first discovered it.

I attached a myriad of meanings to this relic. This cactus became a marker of my journey — an artifact still standing in its place, despite the passing of one-hundred years. I found beauty in this relic. I found solace in its present orientation in the world, even as it leaned forward, rather like the picture of the Tower of Pisa. In its rather mechanical nature, it stood exposed, skin peeled back to reveal nature’s bones. I admired its pursuit to remain through August, September, October and until the end of July of 2021 when it was displaced in a flash flood.

I couldn’t help wonder why the elemental force of the flash floods brought an end to this cacti’s journey of one-hundred years (potentially more), but I think that’s beside the point.

I’ve realized the power of foundations within nature and as evident within my own life. Sooner or later, this artifact of nature was meant to fall, to decompose — all in the name of eventually being reborn.

So, today, as I walked past this ancient composition of nature, I couldn’t help but smile, all in the name of remembering what Walt Whitman once said, “Has anyone supposed it lucky to be born? / I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it” (Leaves of Grass, Norton Critical Edition, p. 666).

I plant myself for a new arrival as I honor the one-hundred years, which came before me. I give gratitude to the lives of my ancestors and for the foundations, which once served them. Lastly, I pray the cactus I spied months and months ago is given a proper burial where she belongs, finally at home to be reborn once again.