Image by Ann marie Houghtailing

Before the bones fused
I put my lips against
that tender dip in your skull
that exposed your vulnerability
and utter dependence upon me

I inhaled that tenderness knowing
it would not last
and knowing there would be days
I grieved desperately for its return

You may find Ann marie Houghtailing’s visual work on Instagram at trailsnotpaths



Set down your shield

If your sword is nearby
throw that as far away as you can

Now get low to the ground


Not just with your ears

Listen with your eyes
and your skin
and your organs
As if you are about to pet a wild rabbit


Listen some more

Now look in the eyes
of the wounded

This will be hard

Now you can speak

Say, thank you for telling me
You are brave, my darling
I am so sorry that I harmed you

You have a right to your pain

I hope you will forgive me
I promise I will be a student of this moment
I will strive to be better
Please be patient
I’m human

And then be quiet and still



Ann Marie Houghtailing

Ann marie Houghtailing is the co founder of Story Imprinting, a communications firm that teaches clients the art and science of storytelling.