By Michaela McLaughlin

Shine in the dark places
Shine like the day
Cause love never had a childhood
And hate grows up too soon.
So, shine.
With a silver spoon
Tarnishes itself against charity
Where teeth sharpen themselves against frailty
Where every family tree falls in a forest
With no one around to hear it
And Dear John letters composed by those
Who never learned how to read or write
And the only reason our hindsight is 20/20
Is because we’ve had too much practice looking over our shoulders.
As if we can expect to find behind us
Anything other than the mistakes we’ve made.
This is where debts paid for servitude are being taxed,
Where the fates of other countries are being faxed
By phone lines tapped by governments
Who send soldiers instead of relief.
Where every belief you believe in
Is questioned by those who can believe what you believe only
IF your credit card clears.
This is where need under weighs want
Where the ghosts of hip hop haunt
Street corners rattling gold chains
That shine in the dark places
Where a rookie hand traces chalk
Around the fallen body of an eight-year-old boy.
Where leaders meet to draw
Lines in the sand that are crossed
Where unwanting parents choose to have their kids
Where Holocaust survivors are now the victims of Alzheimer’s
Leaving the trapped in the nightmare of the past
Where the last thing they can remember is
The first thing they wish they could forget.
Where they see their sons and daughters
As nothing more than strangers they’ve never met.
These are the dark places.
Where we, against all likelihood, must shine
Just to make sure we’re doing everything we can.
That we’re voting for every candidate who ran on a platform Of maybe we’re more than we’ve been told
Maybe twenty-three years is not too old to start thinking
About what it is you want to do with your life.
So FLASH like the blade of a knife
We hold to the throats of those who would have
Us believe that love isn’t for everyone.
Then SHINE so you know you’ve always been someone
That the sun that shines for them shines just as bright for all
That those we call friend lend strength to our backbone
When standing alone is something they can never let us do
Because they pack their bag,
Ready to travel through everything we go through
Preparing to shine in the dark places
We must shine for all the times others will not
Like fireflies caught against the backdrop at midnight
Because despite everything you’ve been told,
You can be bold.
Beyond what others believe you to be.
So see in yourself what you wish others to see. Be brave in a way others may never know Like the undertow
That catches and keeps stars
Spread across the night
Shine in the dark places
Lend the world your light.

Michaela McLaughlin is pursuing her PhD in Counselling Psychology at the University of Minnesota. To empower and inspire people through movement and art, to help the heart sing and heal and to recover the ability, grace and power that people already possess is Michaela’s reason of being.