Wild and desperate eyes I would not let her in Over and over I found her under my bed creeping down the stairs to my basement I locked my door against her and shut the blinds she took the door off the hinges The forest vines followed her to my table I shrugged and began making chicken and rice A pigeon made a nest in the coals of my fire and dreamt People showed up carrying bowls Walls became the inside of a hollow tree Root ceiling, earthen floor Stone in the soup The pot stays full A child filled their bowl singing the prophecies of their generation as they left my kitchen, I felt left behind, not sure of my part I followed to witness the creators of our universe walking in procession dry earthen paths lined by trees raising hands to the forever sky joyful dust rising among dancing, celebrating, stomping feet Robes of gauzy ochre fabric loose over limbs Wooden staff in human hand the face of the night bird looking back at me I have always loved a parade “Look” said my young guide and pointed out two mothers, a family, of brown skin and woven black hair each carrying one of their children high in their arms This child is called life, they are the creators’ allowance This one is death; they are the creators’ constant Both of their children are gifts
Don’t call it a nervous breakdown.
Call it an unsettling, an unwinding from a tightly coiled shape.
A springing-open seed pod of the
touch-me-not, jewelweed, goldfish-flower.
Rename the flowers, it’s been done before.
Coils of slick green, tiny grains of brown seeds
on a trajectory toward the sky and freedom and back to earth.
Call it a no-longer-enduring what has been forced,
coerced by the known and unknown forces
inside us, around us, woven through us.
In collusion with our mother’s grief and our father’s rage.
In cahoots with our mother’s most private madness
and our father’s unsurrendered tears.
Call it a reckoning, a shapeshifting, a transformation.
Return to the shining articulated mahogany pupal case.
Burrow back under the ground and wait.
Call it a rite of passage in a world without rites.
In a world where the incinerator at the funerary home
only gets lit at times when no families
are scheduled to visit their dead.
When our bodies ache and shake and burn and dissolve,
put down what we are carrying as gently as we can.
Sit down, fall asleep, tremble, wail.
We are all that we have
and sometimes it’s ghosts.
Call it the chewy translucent web left behind by the snake.
Each scale, each eye, inside-out gaping mouth.
She’s already through the grass and down the hole
feeling the earth against her new skin.