Paper Flowers


By Tom Harpel (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Image by Tom Harpel

This is how it happens: We contort ourselves, like paper flowers. We wait, twisted in our beautiful shapes until the tears fall to melt us away. Damp, we wilt. Damp, we tear easily. We are not quickly mended.

This is how it happens when we love with our full hearts, when we turn down our brain chatter, the endless no, not this one. Not like this: We grow twisted into beholder-defined beauty. We wait, in our places. We wait to be plucked up in delicate fingers. We hold the pose until we tremble at the slightest breeze, until our bodies, wracked with pain at the unnatural turns we endure, seize and quiver and shake with relief at the softest whispered maybe. At the nod of a head or the upward curve of a lip. Of any sign we are good. We think, maybe today I am enough. Maybe today I have done this right. Maybe today you will look at me and see how hard I have worked to be the lovable one you need. Maybe maybe maybe.

These are the stories we tell ourselves: I can’t leave now. We are on the brink. There is a cliff. I am the tether, I am the stop to the fall. I am I am I am doing good work here. I am.

These are the stories we tell others: It’s been a tough day. A tough week. Lots going on. A tough patch. I’m so sorry. It’s not usually like this. We are working on it. We we we.

The truth? This is how we die: Slowly. In pain. We die waiting for signs of life deep down we knew would never break barriers except between us and Hell because we are not the reason, we are not the fix, we are not loved or in love or loving. Because we are not ourselves.

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

0 Discussion to this post

  1. Reblogged this on On The Verge and commented:
    I am paper today. Rain has dumped all over me. Beautiful timing on this post. -Shareen

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  2. Ula says:

    Yes, we need to connect and reconnect with our authentic selves, stay true to who we really are, and not contort to others’ desires and expectations of us. You express this so beautifully and elegantly.

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