I lay naked in a bath of milk and water with the words of my poem scrawled on my skin.
This poem that started one line at a time, day after day, until what began as a metaphor became a prophecy realized.
I used to write poetry. As a girl and into my teens. But at some point, I found them dorky and weird. The depth of my feelings and shadows pushed aside for fear of embarrassment; of someone seeing too much.
It was more fun to be cheery and light. Easier to be liked and accepted. My wild, my depth, my poet pushed further and further from sight. I thought this was what it meant to grow up. I thought grounding and simple contentment was the role of a wife and mother. This darker side felt selfish and unsteady, dangerous to those who I hold most dear.
But the inner artist yearns to be seen. She lives for pleasure and freedom and saying “fuck you” to the rules that hold her down. She was begging to be unleashed.
So two years ago I started the 100-day project writing one line of poetry at a time and her truth revealed itself. Little did I know how much this simple poem would teach me.
And as happens when truth is spoken, someone listened. My friend and talented photographer heard my words and knew their meaning.
I had no idea that a simple question, “can I capture your poem in images?” would send us both on a journey of self-expression, discovery, and profound friendship unlike any we’d been on before.
So I bore it all literally and figuratively. Finding new love for my body, for my writing, for my wild.
Each layer stripped down, whether on the page or in front of the camera shares a part of me unseen; expression in form. It feels so vulnerable, naked and exposed, an invitation to the world for a glimpse inside. This part of me does not run carpool or pick up groceries. She’s not the one creating small business launch plans or making friends wherever she goes. She’s not nerdy and sarcastic and forever an optimist. But she is a part of me all the same and setting her free is liberation; sharing all of me the biggest act of self-love and acceptance yet.
Sure, I could keep it all hidden — free of interpretation, opinion, and judgment. But as we complete our final phases of production and begin thinking about how and where we want to share, I’m reminded that if standing in my truth, naked and strong, gives someone permission to stand in theirs, then this project has done its job.
Photography credit: Abi Quisenberry