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Intimacy Learned

We are raw exposed
protection armor melting

to feel safe;
to feel validated;
to be able to choose enough vulnerability
not only to allow someone to fully see my pain,
also to reach out and ask for help.

Then there is the vulnerability unasked for.
Unwanted. Forced.
Leaving me feeling exposed, naked, and in terror.
Someone satiating themselves with my body.

What is it about physical pain today that leads me back in memory, in these waves of past, forced, exposed, unasked for vulnerability. And I just want to run hiding.

I stay though, because I know I am safe. I know I have learned the difference between what is forced upon me, and what I get to choose.

I know what is safe and unsafe.
I learned true intimacy.
It is beautiful and warm and I get to live it every day.
I get to choose it everyday.

Instead of desperately trying to cover myself up, I leave myself with my hand stretch out and my voice speaking in the words of “I am in pain, please help.”

It is f$%king scary. It is not the terror though of the past.

This is where this painting is birthed.
Her eyes staring out, steely and soft, and looking directly out.
Mask of hiding and covering up falling off through her words.
She sits insecure and open.

Choosing to be scared, and vulnerable at the same time.
She is tough and finding her way through.

This is what pain had to say today.
This is the Story Within Her.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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I touch against no wall, she said.
Holdfast to the light,
sweeping as a
moment present.

I have started a new series called Stories Within Her. I do not know where the series will travel, evolve, end, or not end.

It is about the blending of the Now and the Then. I am curiously fascinated at how dealing with the severe physical pain of today, can bring me back to both physical and emotional pain of past experience.

I am sitting with that; meditating, praying, conversing with pain.

It is not the same. Certainly not the past. Where as once I created coping skills of self-destruction, now, I sit with the neutrality of joy. light.

Here this figure is; holding fast; and experiencing peace simultaneously.

This painting went through a lot. From 2 figures, to a portrait, to this single figure swept in light.

Her head is upright, bathing, seeking, looking, listening. She needed a moment to herself, away from yet deeply in.

Breathing. What did pain have to tell me this day? She told me to maintain that firm grip on seeking solution; also let go in the stillness of nothingness. Quiet can quiet pain. Let her soak and wash within the light.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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Not Super Girl

Within the words of licorice tea,
I find you.
sentient dissensions
owning the failure
of successes;
and the success
of failures.

Sensitive pallor
of prismatic translucence;
propensity’s inclination
night’s sky
you burn

In that same prismatic fashion
calling us
beneath the surface
of our own forgotten bodies.

Knowledge blurs our perceptions
love in a time of nowhere
and all-where

throwing off your own balance
knocking us unhinged
breaking our hearts
that we may sow intended.

A single strand
writes itself
into a parachute
for the many.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

Night in the House of Poetry

she moves within the changes of humidity/barometric pressure
she is made of ink, charcoal, paper, and plaster-clothe
she finds she is empowered
asking for help; not attempting to be “super girl”

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Based on Becoming and Flying

Am I flying?
She asked.

Stillness within the hours,
Next into next,
They can move as slowly as
A trudge through sticky mud.

Buried in her arms
Of silk-numb
Spikes and needles
Rain down her body.

The minutes
of the clock-glow
Can’t tick fast enough.

Her pain dripping
like water-cascades
of light and thunder.

through blurred-heavy eyes
Falling into her dreams
Of flight and dance

Residing there in
Unconscious darkness

Until the eyes of the
Wide open dawn
Call back

My neck craned back across my pillow
My eyes closed
My prayer is my cringe of
“please! Let this end!

I am in pain!”
–feeling the sick in it’s relentlessness.

So, I fly
into the nothingness being
of meditation
— and prayer.

I fly into becoming
stretching through
the hardness of my muscles
washing through the fire of my nerves.

I become,
the fire.
I become
the hardness.
using it
growing —

and dawn appears.
a moment of dread and hope
sigh and surrender.

I become
I become
I become!

energy of sun
surrounding me
above, below,
by my side.

I become —
not alone;
in flight.

paint much love,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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Staring the Cosmos Within

I watch myself forming
Oneness is calling
It is always Advent somewhere.
Feeling the depths
past meeting presence
freedom, safety, and voice abound.

Waiting in conversation with oneness.
Advent of my life
I look within you in harmonious completeness.

Unholiness I was terrified of you.
I let you in because you said so.
But you are a lie, your name is abuse.
Twisted reality, making me believe what you did was okay.
I hated myself because you said I was as gum on the bottom of a shoe
You lied, you said you could take my very breath away.
That I would not survive without you.
But light kept standing by, waiting, and
Looked you straight in the eye as
Strength stood up with my sustenance
walking away from your lies and abuse.

I watch myself forming.
fear of an unholy birth defeated
This feeling of brokenness finished
I am undamaged and undone.

Peering out into decidedness
Oneness calling is calling
Completeness speaks me whole.

Oddly enough, these days I am revisiting my past in very different ways. Coming to understand how much of my self sabatage of dreams, giving up of my voice and freezing into shut down of silence leads to one place; the old messages I thought I left behind and let go years ago.

And I did, and here I am within a new level of letting go and being very aware of these moments and literally pivoting in making different choices.

Two things, I started therapy with the intentions of helping me work through some of the grief of my body’s limitations and living with a chronic and severe illness. I believed this would help me in pushing forward in action of my goals. Instead where life needed attention was something different.

Visualization like no time before, one of the stand out moments was at Acupuncture. She placed a needle in a particular position and it was guttural pain and abject terror, and yet quickly as she was massaging out this little voice said, “You don’t need to be here.” and and old old song from years ago by Shaina Noll, played in my head. the main words of the song, You Can Relax Now

“You can relax now,
Go on and open your eyes,
Breath deeply now,
I am with you.”

I felt myself in this safety and freedom that none of what I continue to deeply believe within myself, that I am gum under the bottom of your shoes. that I could never be any kind of “success” because I am stupid and incapable.

What nonsense. A deeper knowing in my bones of the lies that its true name is abuse, and that is not mine to take on.

These experiences these days. The totality led me here.

It creates a consistency I choose one day at a time.
I choose freedom and safety. So I look out in a deep stare, fully meeting your eyes with mine. Umbuntu – I am, because you are. in which my soul includes itself – I am because we are.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
This Crooked Little Flower

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Gazing Upon Forever

To know me is merciful
Here I sit to visit engraved

I gaze upon the forever
all for love,
all for being.

patterns of mute
and fear, I grow roots.

Roots opening arms
giving taste of heaven

heavily I carve my being
collages of vivid-softness.

to know me is the mercy
of each line beyond me;

and we arrive,

all for the love of being.

This miniature is from the series, All for the Love of Being, a Visio Divina meditation with the words of Hafiz of Shiraz. Visit the link to read more and listen to the introduction to the series.

Reoccurring within my reflections were themes of grace, and providing myself a safe place to experience giving myself grace; giving myself the gift of roots made of breath enabling me to carve me into the bones of this earth.

I am a part of this world; not realizing I had excluded myself from the we I draw so often; still making myself unhealthfully meek, small, and frail.

I believe you might know this experience. Many of us do. Not all, but many.

It started with three graces. and turned into the prayer of St. Patrick’s breastplate:

Christ be with me
Christ within me
Christ behind me,
Christ before me
Christ beside me
Christ to win me
Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

A friend gave me a rosary and wrote a prayer based on St. Patrick’s breastplate in a time I was desperate for safety and journeying in a very darkness of terror.

I had no idea what my future held. I didn’t see myself alive, and was separating little by little from abusive place, and discovering my personhood.

I prayed and held and wore this prayer through my skin. Here I sit once again praying her into my skin, as she is worn into the soul of the paper.

She began as a digital drawing, and after I printed her, I continued with traditional media as reverse painting on glass, because I attached her to the cabochon. She grew roots more and more until she set herself into walnut; gazing upon forever.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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The Grace of Our Ghosts

Today, sweet compline,
can you experience the light
that is yours?

The wholeness of who;
to have passion;
a nearness held Close?

Allowing the collision
of love as an invasion
into your life?

In the early middle night,
she grasps allowing life to be.
reaching forward;

Hidden by her own protections
today needs no justification;

smiles and griefs,
her anger and joys
living in the wetness of her breath.

Lies drenching from every pour
as truth becomes her way.


she sweats away time,
melting the swelter
within her soul.

I wanted to see the grace I know is there. It is just that some days I am plain worn out. I am sure you know those type of days, because I believe we all have them no matter where you are in your life journey or season.

Sparked by an invitation to participate in a very cool project called #passtheblackbook. Where many artists of all levels and backgrounds etc. were coming together creating art in one digital sketchbook using Sketchable, a very cool drawing software for Surface PCs. Here is a link to check it out and learn more: Pass The Black Book

I began drawing on my page, and one layer led to the next and the next and. . . you get the picture. And what grace in this time with no great time limit, and the gift to be where I am, in the space I am in.

Let’s face it. I just have not been feeling my best lately. I just said to a friend today that I felt like my sparky spark is not so sparkly right now, and that I need to refill my glitter tank.

And that is okay. Not that long ago, I apologized as I do often for my state of being. I said to my hubby, “I am sorry for being a bump on a log.” He replied quite simply and lovingly, “You are fine, just the way you are.”

I pause now days when I find myself wanting to apologize. What am I really apologizing for? I have no idea. Just something ingrained in my existence. To apologize for my existence.

That I have no right to breath. That I am lazy and I should be better; do better. and not wanting to get in trouble.

This is a ghost of my life experience. The ghost of being the sexual play toy of very sick people as a little girl and growing up. This is the ghost of not knowing I was anything more than property. The ghost of fear.

I speak slowly because I wish I could come up with another word. It took years to curb my desire to ask permission for every single movement or action.

May I make a phone call. May I get something to eat. May I go to the bathroom. Somehow the ventilator and its programmed breaths can ping itself to a time when I was told how many breaths per minute I was supposed to breath to be appropriate and being punished if I did not breath appropriately.

Somehow pinging back to not wanting to get into trouble and wanting to say no, all at the same time. “I am in control. I will be in control. You don’t own me.”


Funny how much you can frolic along life and wham! A ghost pops up beside you without even realizing it.

There are just those things so ingrained in our experiences that they walk with us from time to time.

Funny to me how often in this season of my life, as I walk with grief and joy in the flowers of illness and a failing body; funny how often I am walking with ghosts of my experiences past. popping up here and there in ways I never imagine.

What do you do with your ghosts?

I do as I always have done, I draw out the ghosts. We dance in paint and charcoal. They show me such grace in their existence. Show me so many beautiful ways of being. I show them it is safe to be who they are.

How I live now. The love of my family, my friendships, and acquaintances. The fullness of laughter, and true joy.

The okay-ness of being right where I am. With this, one action at a time, I see life in a different way. An action of rest. An action of a dish being washed. An action of stillness in the flowers.

It doesn’t mean the sparkle instantly beams on high, but it does comfort the fear; and gives it rest.

Please, enjoy this meditation, The Grace of Our Ghosts, resting in practice of being.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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Ether Rooms

When unknown I go,
always in forever now,
whereas it is love.

*originally published in A Cornered Gurl

Love, a drawing created in a series of drawings about community, spirit, and contemplating the now, and the possibility of forever.

This drawing, each of us, carrying the load for each other within the healthy boundaries of compassions, respect, life, lifting, teaching, being; together.

i do not have so many words beyond what is already here, so I will leave you to sit in the stillness of what is.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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seeing the superhero

*revisiting a piece originally published in Crossin(G)enres
A good place to begin in restarting my blog

from the series: Brave House Secrets

her graphite lips and charcoal fingers,
stain the paper with her heart;
and the sun rises, and life becomes
uncultivated shirtsleeves
dripping her pink-reds
breadth of alpha
leaving omega
within protections made of blue.

(s)uperhero ©CKS

cobalt blue made pink made blue

Do you ever practice in front of a mirror? Anything? Words, gestures, necessity? Do you look in a mirror? Do you see yourself? Do you truly see; just how beautiful you are?

I face the mirror. I make no eye contact with myself. I make no eye contact with you. Tears fall and drip onto my collar bone. Slightly cold; weighty; they are. (Drawing 1,1,2,3,5,8, CKS, 2016)

(s)uperhero, lower case, universal and inclusive. (S)uperhero, capital S, restrictive; as in the difference between (c)atholic and (C)atholic. Yes, it is on purpose. No, it is not a typo. I get it. People, particularly English professors, like to correct my grammar, spelling, and general use of the English language. I do not wish you distress, however, this is my writing. Please, take a few deep breaths and allow your mind to open. Allow your mind to play with what is before you. It is fun, moving, and deeply passionate.

These things, as mentioned above, I indeed practice. I practice upright talking. I practice owning my own self; body, mind, and spirit. Mirrors are not just for narcissistic vanity. They remind us to stop for pause once in a while. They can help us see our inner (s)uperhero.

Amazing things happen within this process. Life becomes a mirror. We are able to see ourselves reflected in others and others reflected within us. Such reflections enables us to see the universal (s)uperhero; change becomes inevitable. see love; feel love; act with love. My quick tongue softens, and I accept awareness of both my actions which are helpful, and my actions which are less than helpful.
I say this, because I am not a giggly-eyed, stare passed offenses creature. Washing over horrific horrors. . .

I am not the friend who says, “Don’t worry, it will be fine.” I am not the friend blowing sunshine where it does not shine. I will sit beside you. I will hug you; without words. I am okay with heavy silence. I will text you just to say, “hi, thinking about you.”

I say these things, why? People say to me, “I never know what to say.” “I just can’t stand to see them hurting.” “I feel at a loss as what to do.” These words apply to any situation. A person abused, ill, or having lost someone. I have said all these words.

It is all the same emotions of loss, hurt, anger, fear, and anxiety. I speak of this often. There is no us/them. We, have these emotions. We, have emotions of joy, happiness, and gratitude as well.

All this can sink into our bones; the armature of our existence. Loud Silence of (s)uperheros. It starts here; comfort within. Me, you, standing in front of the mirror; looking deep into our own eyes; seeing the beauty of our own bodies; the hurt, the joy; sloughing off separations of the “Or”. Looking for the similarities in the “And”. Our shoulders straighten, our chin raises; maybe we crack a smile. Go ahead; give yourself a little eyebrow raise, and a smirk that says, “oh yes, we got this. We can do this.”

Indeed, it does not mean we do not protect ourselves. We are not doormats. Emotionally, one way I protect myself is the visualization of a protective cobalt blue shield surrounding my body. I move the energies within. I breath it in, and I breath it out. My heart slows its rhythm. My mouth relaxes into a smile. Yes, my heart says.

We are enough. I am enough. You are enough.
Our dreams matter. My dreams matter. Your dreams matter!
My heart, as always, wears on paper sleeves.
I see you. I love you. I thank you.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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Sweet Compline

Sweet Compline;
the sight of night,
watches over my breath
into dawn beyond my fear.

Part of her history;
how did Grace of Our Ghosts
live in the wetness
of her breath?

One of my favorite nighttime prayers, Compline, is a melodic, sweet caress that slows my breathing; helping my mind float as a rhythmic, lazy river; feeling safe enough to attempt sleep.

I remember really being introduced to the practice within a beautiful group I participated in called Education for Ministry, a small, four-year, mentored group about diving deep.

I can’t begin to place words to how this group of people shaped my life. A time when I was very needy, and frail; physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally.

A time when I was terrified of living and terrified of existence; terrified of night and terrified of dawn.
Abraded by nightmares, paralyzed by the Day.

A few short years before this, I had entered what would be a complete mind-f#$% of psychological treatment. And this journey took years to step off completely.

I didn’t know that April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Here it is, not April, but when is it not a good time to speak up. I feel compelled to speak, and yet felt strangely silently void of what to speak.

And then I saw her, again, and she, Sweet Compline, needed to speak. Asked me, please Connie, Tell My Story.
I will try my lovely.

This sweet girl, unmistakably eyes averted downward, and yet she is listening. She is aware, and she aches to be a part of. . .
She simply doesn’t know how, yet.

She sits. She runs to the bathroom and hides when she is scared. She shakes when confused. Cuts when hurting.
She wants out. Her wounds asks herself to be ugly. She tries in every way. At one point in her life, she purposefully wears, cat pee stained clothing, in order to smell ugly.

She didn’t want to hear one more time, “you smell so beautiful. I can smell you. You are mine.”

She, having been treated before, as though it were all in the past. She didn’t know how to speak. She didn’t know then how to say, “Please help me.”

She was sexually assaulted as a young girl, over and over.
She was sexually assaulted as a teenager, over and over.
She was sexually assaulted as a young adult, over and over.

She ran, moved 1800 miles, in an abusive relationship; warned by a third-party that this person was potentially dangerous. She didn’t care. This person showed her affection, and she wanted out, and she figured this was the only the way.

She was an adult and she made her choices. She loved this person. Don’t think for a minute she did not. and this person loved her in as much as this relationship knew how.

She was running, and she didn’t care. Anything had to be better than a place in which she knew she would not survive.

It sounds dramatic, and in truth, it is. And, it is the truth, and it is not pretty. It is not the white-washed words I have heard for so many years since:
“Trauma.” and this is where I jump.

For I live with a rare disease, and have survived cancer; and my physical symptoms were dismissed like so many others in the name of this word, trauma. Would a doctor be so quick to judge, and dismiss if they used the actual words. Could they say with the disdainful face as they do when they say things like:

“Your bladder retention is psychological because you experienced trauma.”

Does this sound the same to you?

“Your bladder retention is psychological because you were raped repeatedly.”

Since we know rape can tear your insides and cause actual physical damage, would a doctor be more apt to make a referral, run some actual tests, and rule out and/or find the physical damage first.

I had complained of pain in my abdomen for a few years. It got to the point of collapse in a Home Depot. It was a f$%^ing tumor. not my trauma.

I live with a debilitating disease. It is killing me slowly. Do I feel it had to get to this point? Do I feel some of the damage might have been prevented if a doctor had not kept saying the word “trauma”? I do, Truth, might not have made a difference. We can never actually know.

Was I needlessly humiliated over and over? Yes.

In 2015, one minute I have a doctor at our bedside telling my family to prepare for the worst and hope for the best as they talked about this disease Neuromyelitis Optica.

Next minute I have a different doctor come in, send my family out so we were alone. She sits by my bedside as sweet as she can be, and says, “now, I have been looking at your old records. . . .”

We are talking records almost 10 years old. A time I was in chaos in leaving my abusive situation; still under the care of a doctor who would later go to prison.

And she dismissed my strength, and the in between, and most importantly my present moment. She wanted to say all of that meant all of my present was psychological.

Some day I do wish to be able to invite this doctor to lunch, and say, “You were wrong to do what you did. Please do not ever do this to a patient ever again.”

Some day I will write like the wind, for now, to protect the hearts of those involved, to be able to feel safe, and experience the love and healing opportunities that the universe has provided. I choose not to write it all down.

But, this. Compline, and the introduction of safety, taken care of in a time when this girl was unable to take care of herself. In misguided attempts at health and well-living, in safety and the way toward sustenance.
She has this to say, I forgive you. and she forgives herself. Lovely girl, eyes bright; listening, soaking up a song of other-space and embryotic waters; holding it in her mind and taking it on our journey; until such time we, with help, stepped into physical safety, and in time, with that came mental, and emotional safety.

So, what am I talking about in non-poetic waxing terms?
What was this Compline moment?

In college I really fell apart. Looking back, it is not hard to know why. Up until that point I functioned in a very different world. College was the first time I had any distance from what I had always known. I only knew myself as a sexual play toy for others. I didn’t know I was a person.

There is more here but again, this is for a future time to write about.
But college, for those hours on campus, I was introduced to people who treated me in a different way, people who functioned differently. Let’s use words like respect, and dignity. not violence.

Psychologically, I had my coping skills, and when placed in a different environment, those coping skills fall apart. Therefore, my world became more and more dysfunctional; meaning, it disrupted my life more and more.
Think of absolute terror and confusion. Unawareness to it all in very intrusive ways.

Enter therapy. I entered therapy because a very true blue friend said, “you need help. I don’t know what but you need help.”

This person was an RA at the dorms and had consulted their boss, and so they had even had gone so far as to find out who might be the best fit as far as the therapist at the campus medical center.

And, I listened. I went. I did my song and dance. This person saw through it. The greater trouble I was in, the better I came to therapy (in my best outfits, makeup, etc,).

I began to find myself even more huddled in the corners, and hiding in closets, etc. I was adamant I had no problems. in particular, I was being confronted with questions about abuse experiences.

In September of 1994, I had entered a complete void of black, and I attempted to take my own life. It was a miracle I survived.

I did. I ended up in a psychiatric hospital. and so, a crazy-a$% journey begins.

What I have to say about this, is they did not ask about the present. My therapist on campus had told the hospital about her confident suspicions that I had experienced some severe abuse, in particular sexual abuse.

I continued to deny anything outwardly, and my actions were saying something else. Which is not the first time. (I learned as an adult that my aunt and uncle had wanted to become my guardian as a young child. My aunt stated to me when I asked a question of this, she said I didn’t say anything, but my actions said a lot).

As they say, things come out sideways even when you think you are silent.
I ended up in a long journey of treatment for severe PTSD and Dissociation. I was diagnosed with DID. and depression, eating disorder, anxiety disorder.
There is a time I spent more days inpatient and as a day patient at a hospital then I spent just living.

This is one of the things I moved 1800 miles away from. I do not believe every professional has ill intentions. The milieu of the day, was tragically misguided.

Do I believe the private hospitals had ill-intentions. Yes. In a short time, my million dollar insurance policy was gone, and so was my mind.
Setting that aside, this treatment was focused on the past. Not making sure you were safe in the present.

I was not. By day, going to a hospital where we role played, discussed, and therapy-ied through details of horrible experiences. As though it were not happening now.

But things were happening to me NOW!

Here is my part. I never spoke. I never said, “Please Help Me, Now. I am not safe.”
And, you can’t “heal” and do these therapies if it is still actually happening.
Sweet Compline, a part of a still on-going series called “Reflections of Sentient.” She is the listening, the eyes wide open to love, to all those experiences that were good, and safe.

She was quiet, and steadfast, and held her own as best she knew how.
For so many years we blamed ourselves. beat ourselves up for being so broken. We were defective. All the words so many of us can relate to calling ourselves.

Believing the lies. Being so confused over our own reality, and being in absolute despair when we heard “its psychological because you experienced trauma”. That again, what we thought was physical merely had to be tied to this experience of trauma. When it was physical. There was something physically wrong with my body.

Back so many years ago, its really the same thing isn’t it? There was something physically wrong, I was still in abuse.

I had no knowledge of how to say it. It was not safe.
and those private hospitals focused on money, good insurance.

Well meaning-ed therapists worked for these hospitals, but it was not safe.
And then after it all, after moving 1800 miles, and a few more years of chaos; Sweet Compline found safety and chose differently. She got physically safe, and asked for help.

Then came, placing everyone on a pedestal. not being able to hear from others about her own strength. not being able to hear others when they say thank you, Sweet Compline, for being willing to speak. Not being able to see what she had done. Her steps she walked because that would be vanity and narcissism.

Today, Sweet Compline,
can experience the light
that was hers all along.

Hidden by her for protection,
today needs no justification
to shine through her smiles,
and griefs, through her anger,
and joys.

Living in the wetness of her breath.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower