I keep thinking about the woman who crashed our church service this morning. The pastor was preaching about blessings and woes when the door opened and she came inside, wearing a camouflage shirt and a sweater tied around her waist. She had no pants or shoes.
I offered her my coat and led her to the ladies’ room. She didn’t answer when I asked her name, where she was from, or who I could call. She would only smile and laugh, and sometimes put her hands over her face. They took her away in the ambulance. They took her. Away.
I like my body when it walks in the backyard.
I like my body when it stands next to its daughter, who is taller than it.
I like my body when it gets tattooed or pierced.
I like my body when it grows hair on its legs.
I like my body when heat blooms in its chest.
I like my body when it has orgasms.
I like my body when it hears music.
I like my body when it is resting, sleeping, dreaming, waking.
I like my body when its mouth waters.
I like my body when its mouth speaks.
But I do know that creature,
Asleep in the field beyond the fence.
It’s easier to turn my back.
Why should I look directly at it,
Search for its liquid iron mouth, or its accusing brown eye?
I’ll stay on the bank, hoping it doesn’t
Slither through the grass and
Pull me down by my ankle,
Or prowl on selfish red paws
Close enough to pounce on my shoulder.
That would be our miscarried conversation,
Violent, wordless, ferocious.
She lived in me until she didn’t, and now she’s
Out there, unburied,
A scent my dog can catch on the wind.
When I shuffle the cards, I
Think/dream/conjecture/feel my question,
Though I know The Universe already hears it,
Already knows my confusions and curiosities.
I make my hands soft, nestling, permissive.
When I cut the cards, they
Break themselves into stacks of information,
Lined up like visitors at a funeral
Each with their own message for the
Living and the dead.
When I lay out the cards, we
Remark upon the first to show its face:
the luscious blue pool with a woman floating inside.
She is The Universe,
Holding my intentions up to the light.
My friend died, brutally, of cancer.
I’d like to gather my thoughts into an elegant essay on her memory wall, as so many of her friends and family have done. But I don’t want to think about it.
I do, however, sing with her.
See, she had a Disney princess voice that was the centerpiece of several secular and religious singing groups. My relationship with God is like a suffocating wool sweater, itchy and uncomfortable. But singing along to her recordings feels like a pure channel to something beyond all of that.
My friend, my heart still hears you singing.