Photo by Alma Ortman

On one of those bright blue
sun-sky days,
a day that feels spacious
a day that’s like cake
I’m walking this dog,
the one who is like the one
I’ve always wanted,
the one who brought me back
to mother earth,
the one who meets (almost) every
moment aligned, our moods synced
to spend hours hiking for treasure
or long rainy minutes in bed,
playtime at dusk,
meditation in rivery sun,
whispered hunts for creatures
under moon and tide,
our affection and awe
always paralleled.

As we bounce off a trail I wonder, What is this love I feel in…


Photo by Alma Ortman

How I like to spend my free time
is like this:
picking up rocks washed by river
gathering the flattest ones to stack
one on top of another —
I know the colors will
always amaze me:
deep safe purples,
eager pinks to red brown clays,
oranges and greens and all the grays,
white that is crystal and white that is milk,
yellowish speckles and strong stripes like
the ones I found in India
only weeks after you died.
(I can feel the grief now folded
in time.)

I place the pretty piles of stones inside shelters that exist within…


City night view of Mars in the sky
City night view of Mars in the sky
Photo by Alma Ortman

I didn’t know it yet,
but I was battling my anxiety
with booze and friends
and bars down the street,
tripping over laughs at crosswalks
home —

Drinking just enough to get to that point
where soul would start talking through me
and we could all stop pretending
to be cool or clear
and get deep with the kind of talk
that’s got mud in it and
feels like pure
Present
Love after midnight
but clumsy and a bit lost
the next morning.

Still, I thought, I’m gonna win at this city life! And anyway, how could someone so anxious…


Artwork- Akhilanda: The Goddess of Never Not Broken. Everything happens for my liberation. I choose to become only more love.
Artwork- Akhilanda: The Goddess of Never Not Broken. Everything happens for my liberation. I choose to become only more love.
Artwork by Lisbeth Cheever-Gessaman

I’m in the 2nd grade: a new kid, shy, scared, and thinking about love. This was a worthwhile distraction, my 7-year-old subconscious must have thought, from actually feeling the full anxiety. As I looked around the classroom, my young brain went to work: hmm, who do I have a crush on here? (Not much has changed, I wryly realize as I write that.)

I decided that I liked funny boys. It happened during group time, when we’d arrange four desks into new clusters, tasked to an assignment that felt very important and a little bit stressful. One day, I was…


Photo by Alma Ortman

I’ve been thinking a lot about hope
these days, and how Pema said
hopelessness is the path to freedom,
and accepting the groundlessness
that is forever below our feet
is what
shakes us
awake.

And I’ve been thinking about a woman
whose dad is dying as I touch this paper,
surrounded by frightened strangers
in a hurting hospital,
and whose funeral she’ll attend by herself
and put out a broadcast for everyone’s
pieces of screen. …


Photo by Alma Ortman

I’ve written poems
inside my head
for days
for you.
Like early songs,
they build pieces of stories
I want to believe.

Your face does this thing to me —
it reminds me of how I feel
when I catch a bird soaring through sky
in a way that dances with the music
playing in my car.
It’s joy that comes in simple surprise,
it’s a secret moment of synchronicity with soul,
it’s how I can say I love you
and feel special and solid
and warm
in my bones.

A version of me may still be getting used to…


Photo by Alma Ortman

Big year, you
split my heart
open
to getting
familiar with
the demons
that have tried
building fate
and blame
outside,
but are actually
between me
and me,
so I can now see
and honor
the sprite
inside
that loves
creates
and holds
joy in the earth’s
deep forest and ocean,
the river’s laugh,
the sky of birds
across clouds,
the eyes
of strangers
in grace,
and the secret
memory
of sacred spaces
in trees.

I bow to the human being paradoxes: to belonging, to feeling wholly loved and alone in one instant; like how I feel most romantic in…


Photo by Alma Ortman

When holy songs
become heavy stone
it’s time to
move.
Shake your knees
and throat.
Let your head
be a drum.
Open jaws and
wail with oceans
inside.

Then step outside,
collect the arrows
pressing
on your chest
and lay them down
like an honest bouquet
on the riverbank.

You have this choice,
solid as the rocks
you stand on.
There’s large life
and grace
on the other side of
pain
today.
See this moment
over the story.
See forgiveness
on top of your hands.
See the beauty
that I place
inside.

And when you get dizzy from being salty…


Photo by Alma Ortman

When she’s happy coming home
on a Friday night
after deep talks
with a good soul
and a sunset,
she dances barefoot
on her clean, soft floor
to beautiful blue songs,
then stares
inside her eyes
close to the mirror
until she cries
from something new
that’s love.

Look at those crinkly laugh wrinkles!
When did they come about?
God, they’re beautiful.
She used to drink and eat
and close
to numbness
on these kinds of nights
What feels like a lifetime ago.

When she’s anxious in public she cleans her fingernails and sometimes goes too deep. Then they sting…

Alma Ortman

Mindful poet & lifelong learner. Musings on belonging, authentic connection, joy, spirit, body, nature, inner work, vulnerability, self-love, fierce compassion

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