sacred portraits Madison luikens photographer West Texas



Since my particular shoot was self-portraits, and the idea of recording conversations came after, I felt the best way to share my stories were through reading poetry I’d written over the years. You can read the words below while you listen from the link above.

Thank you for being here, and holding my story and the stories that follow, tenderly.



the walls that were built

a house

to keep me contained

in the name of sanctity 

my heart aches for the innocence of your youth,

carrying sacred texts around with you

praying to be seen

and deemed

as good

when my child

you have been inherently good 

all along

i rediscovered God in the depths of my darkness

not a man in the clouds on a throne

not the human definition that determines right from wrong

but the presence of a grace i’ve always known

sitting with me




no longer a judge but a home

brick by brick




all that i am

for i am One.

a hollow reed

waiting to be blown through

or blown away

the breath of the Creator

filling my lungs

i am an instrument

dying to be played

and join the greater chorus

return me to the sanctuaries of the Creator

the open air cathedrals 

of which i came

from ashes i am and shall return

darkness and light 

we are one of the same

you cannot have one without the other

for we are Divine Nature


my best friend

i rejected her.

i wanted to change her

convince her she was wrong

make her something different altogether.

i gossiped about her

and degraded her

as if she had no significance.

i starved her of love

exploited her

doubted her 

and denied her.

i controlled her

and abused her emotions

convincing her of her too-much-ness.

i refused her desires.

and ignored her deepest longings.

i smothered her voice

with screams in a pillow.

i betrayed her of her truth

i shamed her for wanting.

i withheld her words

as if i cut out her very tongue.

i belittled her worth

her place and purpose.

i fed her false stories and placed lies on her shoulders.


i finally gave her permission

i released her from my control

as if all along waiting

for me to say “welcome home.”

since then

we’ve made amends.

my body, 

my best friend.


it’s been a year

that i’ve been grieving

who you actually are

who i needed you to be

not for the immediate

but for the decades 

of deep wounding

once you see

you cannot unsee

and it’s a clarity

so blinding

it burns.

like the fire 


beneath what was

until i allowed 

it to come up


like a lion

from the bellows of my soul

i want nothing more than to roar

but i couldn’t 

i couldn’t say how i actually felt

because “nice” girls don’t say what they mean 

for fear of upsetting


how is that fair?

i’m trapped in the cage of my own withholding

bars you kept me in

to contain my wildness

why did my grandeur 

make you feel so insecure

how did i mirror what you wanted

but never allowed yourself 

to rest in self-love


took it one step further

into self-loathing. 

how dare i label you

a wound your mother gave you

a narcissist 

familial destruction at its finest

and you were the arsonist

setting the facade 

of that which we lived


my wish for you is to have 

what you couldn’t give me

only to see,

you didn’t have to be


if only you’d allow yourself to be

at home

with yourself

to forgive



be free