Hope Springs

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We had an old well in my childhood home
My mother nicknamed it “Hope Springs”
And when she’d pull up the water, she’d smile and say
“Drink up. Everyone could use a drop of hope.”

I remember the water from Hope Springs
It tasted different than other water
It was cooler somehow
Smoother somehow
It slid down your throat and down to your belly and seemed to warm you from the inside
A tingly feeling that rippled from your head to your fingertips to your toes
If I was ever scared or anxious or sad or just unsure of myself
I would drink from the well
And it seemed to make everything just a little bit better
I believed it was magic
That it could cure almost anything

Standing here, outside the house, ten years later,
I know better than to believe in magic water
When you’ve been through a war it feels as if all magic has been drained from the world
What I had experienced – what I had seen – could not be cured

My house used to be a beautiful cottage
Flowers blooming in the front yard
Clean white walls
With a smart blue trim on the windows
Now it is black and grey
Charred and broken in bits from bombs
Most of it no longer stands
But instead lays crumbled on the ground
As sad and damaged as the rest of us
A piece of glass from the window lays before my feet on the dead grass
I can just barely make out the blue trim underneath the jet black charring

Everything has changed now
Nothing is the same

The only thing that still stands is Hope Springs
I don’t know how she did it
How she stood so tall and strong
She was already a very old well
She had been on the property long before us
I’d thought she might be the first to pass
But there she was
Cracked a little maybe
And dusty
But still herself
I walked over to her longingly
Lowered the rope with the bucket down into the water
And pulled it back up
The same way my mother used to
I expected the water to be dirty but it was crystal clear

For old time’s sake
I took a sip of the water

It went down like silk
And warmed my belly
I felt a tingling run through my body
And then I felt a most peculiar thing
I felt a weight lift off of me
One that I had been carrying for a long, long, time
I hadn’t realized how heavy it was until it was gone
It was like giant boulders had been lifted from my back, my heart, my stomach, and my mind
And for the first time in nearly a decade, I felt like everything might just be okay after all
Like there was a chance for the human race
And for me
I felt something resembling peace
The water’s magic, it seemed, had gone unharmed

A familiar thought came to me
A phrase I hadn’t heard in years
And I smiled
Eyes tearing
Because I could hear her voice in my head saying
“Drink up. Everyone could use a drop of hope.”

– Lucy Schwartz

Note: I do not own the photograph included in this post, but I always try to link photos to their original source (when I can find it). If you want to find out more about the beautiful image & the photographer you can click on the image.

The Dig (The Art of Uncovering A Story)

Cloudy-headed thoughts arrive
Wanting to tell me something
Wanting to show me something
I follow the thoughts and find myself standing in a plot of unearthed land
And somehow I know, deep within,
There are treasures hiding underneath the soil

I notice a shovel
Lying in the dew-covered morning dirt,
I grab the shovel and – for no logical reason – I dig
And dig
And dig
Hours pass
The sun peeks out from the clouds
Heating the air
And baking my skin
Steam rising off of me
And dripping in small pools down my brow
I dig and I dig
Forgetting myself
Forgetting the time
Forgetting all sensible actions
Until I hit something hard
It’s…
A wooden object
Like a stick
Upon it
Engraved words
From another’s language
I have no idea what the text means
But it is beautiful to look at
Sweeping and lyrical phrases
Which envelop the eyes in a type of visual symphony
And it is old, this object,
Maybe hundreds of years old
I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life
And somehow, at the same time, it is eerily and most-lovingly familiar to me

I continue to carve the object out from the earth
Moving moistened brown dirt up and away
My arms tiring,
Aching and sore,
But my heart a-flutter
Thrilled by the discovery
And as I uncover it more fully
I realize that what I was seeing before, was just a single leg
Out of four
Belonging to a chair

After many hours of labor
The chair is freed from the earth

I hoist it up with all my strength
Set it upon the ground
And gaze at it with wonder

My brain is pulsing with questions
Why was I led here?
Why did I listen to this insane instinct of mine to dig?
How did I know to dig in this exact spot?
And what is this ancient relic?

Is it something I lost long ago that has found it’s way back?
Or is this our first meeting?

And who carved it originally?
Some mysterious and forever nameless face from centuries past
Did this long-gone stranger want it to be found or to remain hidden?
What would they think if they knew this object had ended up in my hands?
Or did the ghost of this stranger always intend for me to find it?

Was it fate that brought me to this strange and beautiful object?
Or simply blind luck?

And…
And…
A part of me even wonders…
Did it always exist there, under the soil?
Or did I somehow dream it into being?

And now that I have birthed it from the earth,
Does it belong to me?

I’m not sure I know
I’m not sure I’ll ever know
But somehow I was led here,
And for now at least,
The mystery of it belongs to me.

-Lucy Schwartz

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Past Lives

The many lives I lived before
Are laid out before me
Like diverging hallways
Echoing
Each door
Wanting to be known
A will-o’-wisp leads me through the chambers
bouncing merrily along the dark, stone, castle corridor
She is the only light in the darkness, but for the dim, flickering, lanterns which adorn the walls,
The wisp looks like the floating ghost of a dog,
or perhaps a butterfly,
It’s hard to tell,
She keeps shifting and changing shape,
At times she turns to nothingness,
Her form stretches outwards into thin air and then returns to itself,
She nearly disappears every time she turns a corner,
I find myself having to walk faster and faster just to keep up,
After a long time of chasing the wisp, we reach an ancient door,
Green, wooden, and covered in moss and vines,
The wisp slyly opens the door and pulls me through,
My body is lifted up into the heavens,
I feel myself drenched in coldness,
As if I am naked in snow,
Consumed by ice,
And I find that I am frozen stiff, completely unable to move,
And yet, I am moving at incredible speed, faster than I have ever traveled before,
And then – with no warning –
I land
Thud!
Heavy as lead
I feel the hard crunch of dirt and grass beneath my feet

And that’s when I see myself
The way I was before
In this other life
How very strange to be looking at another version of myself
She is me and she is not me all at once
She was completely forgotten to me in my consciousness
And yet, it’s very clear she was known to me all along
I can hardly catch my breath

I know now that the past is not an echo
It’s alive

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Saoirse Ronan
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-Lucy Schwartz

Note: I do not own the photographs included in this post, but I always try to link the photographs to their original source (when I can find it). If you want to find out more about the beautiful images & the photographers you can click on the images.

The Deer

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I found her in the forest
Barely alive
A deer
Panting uneasily
Lying on the ground
Broken
Her eyes gentle and kind
And pained
On the back of her neck, there was a wound
A deep cut
I knelt down beside her
And carefully – gingerly – not knowing how she would respond –
Reached out, and stroked her brown and white speckled fur
She sighed gratefully
There was a sort of melody to the sound
Beautiful and sweet

I stayed with her until the stars came out
Listening to the beat of her heart and the pace of her breath
Praying that they both kept on
I fell asleep in the grass beside her, curled up just like she
With the wind wrapped around us as our blanket

In my dreams I was with her too
I dreamt I carried her to a river
An aquamarine river
And in its healing waters
I soothed her heart
And mended her skin
And shaped and re-shaped her form
Until she was whole again
Until she could breathe

When I awoke the next morning
Blinking, taking in the morning light,
I found –
That she was gone.

I felt a pang of fear, then sadness, then regret for having closed my eyes
I should have stayed awake
I should have protected her
I looked all around me
Desperately
I searched the nearby trees
I called for her as I walked
But in all my desperate seeking
I could not find her

How could it be?
Had she passed in the night?
Had her body simply turned to dust and evaporated in the wind?
Or –
How dreadful
How unbearable
Had she been scooped up in sharp jaws
Underneath the dark and unforgiving cloak of night
And devoured by another larger, stronger animal?
Even the thought of it was too cruel

But what if –
A thought came to me excitedly
bouncing all the way from the synapses in my brain to the pulse of my heart
What if she had gained back her strength?
What if she had healed?
What if she had opened her eyes in the morning, renewed in spirit, and lifted herself up onto steady feet?
And left to re-join her herd?

As I wondered and hoped, I felt another pang of hurt
This time, a physical kind
Coming from the back of my neck
I reached back and felt the spot with my hand,
How strange –
There was a cut there
A wound
A scab
It must have been an old injury because it felt like it was almost ingrained in the skin
But I had never known it to exist
Until – now
And as I touched the old wound, I somehow knew it was in the process of healing
And so was I

– Lucy Schwartz
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note: I do not own the photographs included in this post. You can click on the photos to find out more about the photographer. 🙂

The Ladder

Every full moon at midnight
In the dark, pine, forest
Through an especially dense thicket of trees
Behind a rickety, old, abandoned house, that looks as if it’s been swallowed up by vines…

It appears
A ladder
As tall as the sky itself

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And every full moon I climb
Up, up, up, to the heavens
Through the thick pillows of clouds
Holding onto the rough wooden slats
One hand in front of the other
Never looking down
Until night becomes day
And I find myself in The Enchanted Room

I meet the most wonderful people there
Figures from history, Marilyn Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, Frida Kahlo,
They are all dressed in masks for the dance,
Marilyn Monroe wears a rabbit mask, Frida, a colorful feathered one with the symbol of a monkey on the forehead, Abraham always looks dapper in a simple black Venetian frame

You see, each night is a party,
A sophisticated black-tie affair,
A masquerade ball of cloaked spirits,
A rotating blur of clasped-hand-dancers spinning across the floor

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And there I am –
A guest to the most extraordinary festivities
Feeling both fortunate and a fraud
Who am I to be here?
Why was I – the only living mortal – invited? Led here that first fateful evening by the light of the moon?
Beneath my mask, I am not someone of note, I am not in the history books, I am not exceptional in any particular way. I am just an ordinary person. The only thing extraordinary about me, is that I’m here, in this enchanted place.

All these people, these spirits,
They have such wisdom, so many stories, and I – well, I have my ears to listen – but no stories of great measure. But oh, how their stories thrill me!

After a night of dancing and fascinating conversation, I climb back down the ladder
Down, down, down, to solid ground
To earth, to things familiar,
To things mundane,
To memories, and worries, to little pains that prick at the heart, to a running list of things undone and things to repair and things to do, to hopes and quiet dreams, and wordless fantasies, to the steady rhythm of my heartbeat, and the beauty of the forest surrounding me, to thoughts of friends and family, and all those living on this ground that make me happy to return, back through the forest and to my house, where I slip inside the front door quietly, careful not to wake the others. My family. How I love them.

How lucky I am to share a life with the ones I love here on Earth.

And I think…“Perhaps the ordinary is extraordinary.”

Maybe that’s the story I bring to the party. Maybe that’s why they picked me.

-A story written by Lucy Schwartz

(note: I do not own the photos included in this post)