The winter of 2020 was a time of personal unrest. Heavy feelings of uncertainty and internal conflict were emerging as I was beginning to gain a deeper grasp on the realities of the modern world and the environmental condition. With a hopeless feeling of not being able to do anything to make a drastic positive impact, I decided to force myself into a week-long self-portraiture project as a method of self-therapy. 

While much of my conceptual work utilizes my own physical self as a subject, it most often is identity-less. This brief project, however, is indeed a self-portrait in my response to the conflicts of modernity. 

Through the quiet and still winter, she was left to her own reflection amongst the open skies. Left to witness the shadows creeping ever-closer, like a clock, consistently ticking on, growing louder as you watch the pendulum swing.

Do you hear it now?

Now that the world isn’t spinning,

buzzing in your mind?

You must see. You must feel it.


Listen for the whisper in the night.

Has it given you a fright?


But don’t yet put up a fight.

For the fault is deeper than first sight.

Our palms are being nailed tight.

Dig into the earth,

feel the vibration in your bones.

Watch as the ground shudders,

the grass shivering in the smoke filled breeze.

The fire is raging,

but the embers light up the shadows all around. These unintended secrets, shining unbearably bright in the darkest of nights.

It seems to me this world has been twisted for quite some time,

that the mute sky has finally gone and left us behind.

To walk amongst our own shadows

and grasp these scars we leave behind.


I could tell you to roll back over,

when you reclaim both your eyes.

That the seasons to come will not suffer,

but that would be a lie.

© 2020 by Shaena Neal

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