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For Heather:
This is the part you have waited for.
No mad wild heat
lists to do
children to teach
examples to set.
Just books to read
flowers to grow
friends to welcome
universes to create.
Small moments that previously
escaped your notice
fill you and expand
to create a horizon
that is infinite.
Happy Birthday, Dear Enchantress!
You have made us all dance with joy.
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Listen to the corpses pray:
Bones rattle in supplication
absent lips form phrases
stored deep in the marrow.
Phalanges click like rosary beads
over the mysteries of the twelve ribs,
to the left, sorrow
the right is joy.
This is the body,
now and forever
world without end.

I’ve been a bit concerned recently, as I have received a strange email. The only thing in it was this photo, which is a picture of a psychiatric hospital I worked at for a time…it has since been demolished, after a series of events which–well, which rocked the community, and are best left unsaid. I fear that one of my former patients is trying to reach me, and it has me looking over my shoulder a bit. Please pray for my safety.

As legend has it, one of the seven gates of hell

Stull, Kansas

Soon you will hear the facts behind the legend…


Now that I have come from my disturbing encounter with Baba Yaga, and spent some time pondering milagros, I am ready for respite. I sink into the rosemary scented bath that Madame Eclectica has prepared for me and allow my thoughts to drift.

I recall spending time as a girl making a secret camp in the windbreak behind our farm. My sister and I cleared away the brush, sweeping and raking to form a trail through the fragrant cedar trees. We harvested rocks from a nearby field to make fire rings, and brought out dishes from the house to be filled with greens and berries that we prepared as “salads.” We spent quite a lot of time out there. My sister and I didn’t often get along, and it was a rare treat to partner with her in any endeavor. It was a secret, shaded world, one that we were sole owners of, until the day we decided that the trail needed an exit, out behind the old pink Chevy that had died and been hauled out to the back acreage. It was now a home to mice, snakes, and wasps,and we gave it a wide berth as we used a handsaw to cut branches from one of the trees. After about an hour or two, we had a large enough opening to ride our bikes through, and could then make a round trip, starting at the driveway, coursing through the paths we had made, out the crude opening, down the lane leading to the tractor shed, and back in. All was right with our world, until Dad came home. He was doing chores when he happened to notice our circuit. He walked back to the treeline and was waiting for us as we made our next pass.
“Pretty neat, huh, Dad?” we said as we rode through the hole in the tree.
Dad looked ready to explode. We hopped off our bikes.
“Why the hell do you think it’s called a WINDBREAK?” he yelled.
We looked at the tree, and noticed its distinct lack of windbreaking capacity, thanks to our busy-beaver sawing job. The hole was about six feet by 8 feet, not bad work for a couple of girls under 12. Frankly, a merit badge was in order.

I don’t remember if we were punished–though it’s likely, but what could he do? The damage was done. It took about ten years for that hole to grow shut, and now the treeline at the north end of my parents’ property is as full and fluffy as it ever was. Whenever my sister and I walk back there, we always look at one another and burst out laughing. Dad can finally laugh about it too.


Some words from Rumi…

This is how I would die
into the love
I have for you:
as pieces of cloud
dissolve in sunlight.
Many blessings!

She stood at the edge of the glade, eyes sparkling in the glow of the homefire. All around her, the young ones danced and leapt; their passion and minds were free in the bright burning moment of now. The man stood at her side and gently squeezed her hand. They exchanged a look rich with their own nights by the fire, the wildness loose in their skin. Now they shared the quiet comfort of many nights side by side. She smiled at her daughters dancing under the starwashed sky, and then, unexpectedly, a feeling of sadness filled her.
The dark of the moon reminded her of the dark emptiness she had felt for some time now. Mother Moon had left her behind. Her body no longer kept the rhythm she had known since maidenhood. She was no longer a part of the whole. She noticed a slow deliberation to her thoughts and her movements. Her mothertime was long past, her two daughters grown. They strengthened the community, one a wise teacher, the other a gifted builder. Her gift was given.
The man knew the woman felt a change; felt her turning inward. He searched her face, worried. She no longer felt at home in her skin, under which all the pieces of the universe itched. As the feeling grew, she sifted through her knowledge, seeking a tincture or potion that would heal her. Finally, she knew—she would embrace that most ancient of cures—solitude. She chose for her journey objects that reminded her of life and of home, and wrapping her warm cloak about her body, set off into the woods. The man stood at the gate, the feel of her hand on his cheek fading as she walked away.
She walked for two days and nights, resting in the shelter of a tree or rock that called her name. She drank from quiet pools and lively brooks. She kept company with red foxes, deer, hawks, squirrels, and one wise owl that flew silently above her in the night. She came to an ancient clearing, remembered from girlhood, a place of sacred plants. The enormous oak at the edge of the clearing bent its limbs almost to the ground. The shelter it created kept out the rain, but allowed the breeze and light to flicker in and fall on the mossy carpet below. She placed her cloak in the warm curve at the base of the tree. On a low branch, she found a fallen sparrow’s nest. She placed it gently in the crook of the great tree and within it laid smooth gray river rocks—two, one for each daughter. In a gnarled hole in the trunk, she tucked her book and her comb. She crumbled herbs into her sleeping place, and hung them about the low branches of the tree. Some, like soothing lavender, were for comfort in the present; others were brought to remind her of times past. Passionwood reminded her of nights next to the homefire, wrapped in the arms of another. Motherwort and crampbark, no longer needed, were bundled with velvet ribbon. Rosemary lay by for clarity of remembrance. The fragrant herbs formed the scent of her rich life and she inhaled deeply.
Each day the woman rose and walked the forest, finding simple food to nourish her body and sights to awaken the wonder of her mind. Tender young morels, glittering dew on a crimson flower, stones worn smooth by time’s caress—each delighted her. At night, she spoke softly to the Great Mother before settling into Her sheltering curves. She waited for the dream.
Months passed, and the patience of the woman—a gift of aging—grew. Still she waited. One night, her inner voice bade her prepare. She drank deeply of water from the spring and anointed her skin with lavender oil. Climbing into the arms of the great oak, she stood on a strong branch. Mother Moon was peeking over the horizon, glowing red-gold in the velvet blue night. She once again felt the overwhelming sadness descend. Her sisterhood with the moon was over.
A rush of wind passed over as three powerful black birds descended. She peered into the darkness and saw three large Ravens, feathers shining blue, snapping black eyes gleaming in the night, perched on the branches of the oak.
“Come with us, Sister,” they crowed, in their rusty voices, catching her dress in their powerful beaks. She stretched out her arms, encircling the neck of the largest. They rose and circled the wood, flying higher. “We will show you all there is to see, Sister.” They traveled through the wood and beyond, to her village. She saw the home fires burning; the maidens dancing around the fire. Her heart was torn asunder with all she had lost. Her warm tears fell on the raven.
“Do not cry, Sister. Mother Moon is full and round, as is the wheel of time. You have known the robust passions of youth. You have known the fullness of lifegiving. You will now know the true fullness. No longer will Mother Moon call you to the cycle. Now you become a keeper of wisdom. You will keep all you have known and learned, and your light will grow with each fullness of Mother Moon. In time, you will be so luminous that you will dance up into the night sky. You will become one with those who light us.” The Raven swept a wing toward the stars.
The ravens flew higher and higher, toward the rising moon. The woman reached toward the moon, still longing for it, and dropped her face to the Raven’s feathers in grief. As she moved to wipe her tears, she saw that her hand shimmered with fine moondust. Without thought, she brought her hand to her face and tasted it. Suddenly, she laughed, her joy soaring in the night sky. As the Ravens circled around and around the moon, she scooped handfuls of moondust, eating until she was quite full. She began to feel lighter. She felt a tingling in her heart center. Holding her hands in front of her, she saw moonbeams shooting from each of her fingers. She opened her mouth to speak and moonlight came pouring out in a silken, silvery stream. Her Sisters, the Ravens, cawed and crowed with delight. “You see, Sister, your life is not over. Now Mother Moon lives in you. You will light the way, glowing with the radiance of life and the fullness of time. Be joyful, Sister!”
The ravens circled down, down; into the woods, and dropped her beneath the tree. She fell, solidly, into her body, which now fit her like a glove. Her skin was alive—each cell part of a joyous chorus. She stood up very straight, and walked through the forest to the village, the moonlight caressing her shoulders. She reached the edge of her village in a short time. She passed by the fires, where the maidens were dancing. Some were drawn away from the bright flames to her pale radiance.
“Hello, Mother. Welcome home. We have missed you!” She greeted them, touching each one on the forehead, leaving a faint trace of silver. Dazzled, they smiled and leapt into their dance, rushing back to the fire and the passion of discovery.
She continued on to her own dwelling. Taking off her shoes, she stood in her garden, her feet cool and solid upon the earth. I made this place, she said to herself. I am of it, and it of me. I belong here. My life is full. I am the gift. Her dog came to her and nuzzled her hand. She smiled in the darkness. She heard a noise, and looked up to see the man standing in the doorway.
“I’ve missed you,” he said. “Did the dream come?”
“This is the dream,” she said. She walked to him, the delicate blossoms of the moonflower unfurling in her wake. “I am me again,” she said, “only better.” She stretched out her hands toward him, and the light in her enveloped them both. They began to dance.

Karen Roberts
©2004

Milagros are prayers of a sort, created in Mexico, and, I assume, other Latin American countries that are Catholic. They are often in the shape of the thing prayed for…eyes for good vision, hearts for safe journey through open heart surgery or love, etc…I loved this idea, and this hand is one of my visions of the milagro. Hands can plant all sorts of seeds, some of which I have listed around the border. May our hands be miracles of the everyday.