you & me

I Peel the Bark off the Trees and See My Skin.


You can start over.

Again and again, every day, you are blessed to wake up once more to a new morning. Be it to sunshine or storm, you are gifted the new day and you get to choose what you do with it.

And you don’t have to do anything with it, nothing more than acknowledging that it is yours.

When did we start letting someone else, a whole society of someone else, dictate who we are supposed to be and what age we were supposed to be it?

“I don’t want to be anything other than what I’ve been trying to be lately, all I have to do is think of me and I have peace of mind.” ~ Gavin Degraw

You can decide each new day that you are given who you are and what you believe in. That means you are allowed to change. That means that it is okay if you start over. It is okay if right now you have to start over.

Take the pay cut, leave the relationships, come to terms with not agreeing with your family anymore, with the way things are anymore. Society makes us think the way things are is the way they need to stay and is the way they have to remain for us. This is not flowery poetic prose. This is an out of left field frost that halves the tomato vine just when the fruit started growing.

Every day we are growing. Up and out and taking up space because for too long we were made to feel small, stay small. Made to make ourselves invisible and no one would hear us when we cried.

I am crying and letting my shoulders shake, my whole spine quivering like evergreens in a hurricane, while you watch, holding your breath, waiting for the trunks to snap but they don’t. I won’t.

Watch me all you want.

This body is tired of bending, but how beautiful the curve, the flexible and adaptable girl. Five years ago she was in this same place. Coming to terms with all the things she didn’t want, the future someone else projected onto her. How society made her feel guilty for not wanting it. How she let herself feel ashamed for not wanting it.

And five years later there is more shame and more guilt because we get lost deep inside forgetting. Forgetting that it never mattered what you had in life but how you felt. This one present moment and you forgot to feel for yourself, your own heartbeat. You forgot how to hear it, all you hear now is the anxious shallow heaving of a choked back breath.

I am farther than I was five years ago even if I feel I haven’t moved from my plot. But that is how a maple tree grows, she never moves but she gets taller and her leaves fuller and brighter, burning red in the autumn sun. And her roots? My god! Her roots, hidden under the pitch of soil, traverse the yard for miles. What, if anything, has ever truly uprooted you?

You are sturdy and sturdier still for all that your bark has weathered. Next time you are in the vicinity of trees, touch your palm to their bodies and think of all of history’s petrified wood, how each ring circling inside it tells a story, every whorl a portal back to believing.

Remember your purpose. It wasn’t what the world deems profitable. It wasn’t anything other than bearing witness to this holy lightning striking near the foot of these birch trees and how they pale in the moonlight — ghostly but never fading and never splitting apart.


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Alise Versella
Alise Versella is a poet living at the Jersey Shore. She has published three volumes of poetry which can be found at her website, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. Her work has been featured on Elephant Journal, Women's Spiritual Poetry blog,, The Tattooed Buddha, and of course here. She considers herself a coffee enthusiast and self-proclaimed dessert whore, who believes with every fiber of her being that poetry, beautiful poetry, can come from the ugliest of pain. Poetry can be the salve for all the broken parts, and it can make us whole.
Alise Versella
Alise Versella