It is Beltane and I dream of cattle. No leaping through fire though, just standing together looking in the same direction, the bull and I, my hand curled around his horn, his breath coming soft and warm. He has pulled me from the swirling void and into place, this place, forehead to forehead he drew me into being. May I never forget the cradle of his broad head, the calm capability, the way we reflect one another, as if I have form because he looked. I am what the bull sees. I am seen.
He leads me to the field of flowers. I hold his horn so I don’t get lost. So I don’t forget. The grass is lush and tender. My chest opens and all the butterflies fly out. Night falls.
There is a small fire where a traveller sits at his dinner. The bull and I cross to the fire. The traveller bids us welcome and makes an offering to the goddess. I make a small “oh” sound of sudden understanding. The bull is goddess. It seems so obvious now. Everything makes sense.
The traveller hands me the plate. “Not me,” I say, “I’m not the goddess.” The bull turns his head and breathes on me, gazing. In the breath of the bull I find I am goddess. I accept the plate.
It is Beltane and the moon is coming on full. I dream of a traveler who sits across the fire. He is a spool of stories barely contained, his breath thrilling the still. I settle myself across from him. A small chime of bells. “Tell me,” I say. “Tell me everything.”
I step through all loose and sandy.
The wellspring runs her fingers through my hair, loosening grit, pulling out bits of twig and fingering small braids, these knots of remembering. I am sandy-bodied too, shivering and shifting in my bones. So I take myself to the river and I lay myself down on the soft silty bottom in the bright shallow waters. My body eases out long and winding. The cliff walls of all that I have done and been rise up on either side of me, sheltering and honoring and remembering me. The sun makes music of all the small surfaces.
Crow comes, with his starburst feet, and dips his beak into the flow. I rise up to speak with him. Crow, Crow, what have you come to tell me?
He cocks his head at me and I recognize the rudeness of always asking what’s in it for me. I spread my arms over the river’s way and offer Crow the spangled ribbon of ever changing delight. He accepts.
He opens his beak to reveal a small flower of flame which jumps from his mouth to my heart. I am kindled.
The day becomes night, I cast dancing shadows. The dark is swift with living things. I am perfectly at home here. I let my heart subside and ember.
I come to rest.
In my readiness I go looking. I seek the one who holds the scissors, the key and the fingerbone. I call out and she answers. Her fierce aspect bars the way. Incisor on incisor, a delicacy of force, releasing the contained, unleashing the concealed. I am ready I am ready. I give everything I have become. I think it is the price of admission.
It is not.
She takes everything I offer. And leaves me standing. The cold is at my throat.
“It is a gift,” she says.
Stitch the wind back into my bones now. The day is new. I will wear indigo and plant my feet squarely.
Hear this. We begin.
How the soft inhabits the hard. How the real runs tidal through the break walls and the bridges.
Go ahead and set the table, with the fork on one side and the knife on the other. Center your dishes. Invite your guests.
And when the naked dervish of delight blooms from your hands and across the spread and through the crack in the window glass, be glad. For the mess and the confusion and the drawing of blood. Be glad. Get up. Raise your glass. Be the candle light. Dance.
This. This is it.
There is a woman whose body is the flight of birds. She reclines along the watery rim of the world.
There is urgency to what must be done. Time moves through her in a tight whirl, a furious condensation, drilling through her middle, raising a rustle and sending off splash.
In each bird beats a compass heart. Each body has the power to lift and return. Nothing is broken.
She is Our Lady of Undulation and Repose, so loosely woven, so permeable, so lasting. In her we are flocked, both free and belonging.
There are pins in the map to mark the sorrows, and so we go there. And again.
I ask what might please her. She cannot say. We cannot fathom. She lives in a bramble of language. Nothing of any consequence survives it.
Once, she took a fisherman’s boat and rowed out past the headland into open waters, without sparing a thought for the fear of her elders. Now, try as it might, the pump of her heart cannot warm her hands. Her leather gloves are butter yellow to match the glow of her bag.
She has been dressing for Sunday the last two days. Tomorrow she will get it right.
Tomorrow Sunday will rise up to meet her. And she will be ready.
You take her hand between your own. When she laughs, I laugh and then we are all laughing, we are all of us laughing.
You see raccoon, I see fox and the alchemy that has eluded me all day, arrowing straight across my path, crossing me, hailing me, startling me awake. The car fills with a babbling like bubbles under rushing water. In all the dark we are a crucible of light. You give me fox, like a gift. I accept it.
We have spent all the money in our pockets on silk flowers and a vase. I feast on cheese and sauerkraut as you wrestle the blooms into surprising grace.
Everything begins from here.