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The Second Mountain      © Caroline Hickman Vaughan  2020

This image came from two places. A dream, followed by a look into a dumpster on my neighbor's property. My friend died without my saying good bye. I dreamed for two months at night to find him in different geography. One day I awakened with the image. My journey into New Mexico, each climb over petroglyps led  me deeper into the desert. I  found them stacked on either side up a a small mountain trail which  I followed. I went to bed the next night and used something I call guided imagery to start where I left off and followed the trail which turned  around a curve. On the backside of the mountain appeared to be a second mountain with environment opposed  to the first: cool air, fog, moss covered boulders appeared.  I climbed one side of a desert trail that morphed into a shadow atmosphere.

After I wrote the poem I began to look for something that might represent two mountains. My neighbor was refurbishing his house.  I leaned into the dumpster. Paint dripped into splatters on the far wall side by side. I imagined how this could be the start of the image.

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I saw the one paint drip and the possibility of a cone. Through Photoshop I added more to the image just by heightening the colors already there, intensifying the contrast, the sharpness of the image until I had my two mountains. Right in my neighbor's  front yard. The poem is written under the theme title EVENTS.

I also want to write a poem about the moon flowers

I photographed in the summer of 2020


Moon Flower  © Caroline Hickman Vaughan  2020

I am still working on the poem about Mica a mineral which I discovered as a child.


I am also working on poems about my father, and about the idea of a persona, a kind of equivalent portrait of someone or something that reminds me of someone or something that might be living or dead.


The subconscious mind, to me, is like a mysterious hidden well deep inside my psyche which I cannot look at directly. This repository; however, can reveal thoughts, fears, dreams and feelings that sometimes I swallow or if they surface like fish on the lake, I can take them and begin to understand my own feelings by probing into areas that are uncomfortable or delightful. The more I allow myself to walk towards my fear, the wider my range of emotions and images becomes. If you only photograph things you are attracted to, eventually your range will be limited by this seduction. If you push yourself to walk to the edge of the earth, placing yourself in the hands of a higher power, you may be able to find out why snakes make you paralyzed.

When someone is not present to photograph, often we can make an equivalent portrait by choosing an object, place, or time of day that reminds us of the person. An example of this is my mother's Heirloom German Bearded Iris that she grew and I photographed. She taught me how to plant iris and to take care of them. In this image, my mother,  her personality shows two sides, the progression of one Iris opening up and part of another spent and wilting. This becomes an equivalent  portrait of mother who died in 2011 after eight years of Alzheimer's. Each year I went to her abandoned home and dug up the iris when they bloomed and transplanted them at my house until I had sixty. When I moved to my new home in Hillsborough, I had a gardner plant them in the raised bed I built. He planted them very differently from what mother taught me but I did not correct him and a year later all the iris, planted deep in the soil, had rotted. I started over with two that survived in another location. At that point I felt fortunate to have an image of her iris, taken thirty years ago. It reminded me of what she taught me and the next time I planted iris, I planted them myself in the manner mother showed me, on top of the soil, rhizomes visible and roots covered with a small amount of soil. An emotional experience of losing something precious often can lead to building a poem from the feelings I experienced.

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German Bearded Iris, the subject of a future poem about my mother.

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