listen. the time for telling the beginning, is near

some of us are quietly mending our well-worn lives with old threads handed down by other women—how they still make radiant marks on all that remains of the day. some of us pray by making tea in the dark hours before the light climbs long-legged down the drainpipe to the kitchen window, and a prayer and a spell is the same thing dressed up in different clothes—if you mean them, they are both tender weapons, so use them well. some of us carry healing by saying rosemary and sage, mugwort and dandelion, by knowing the name of the sycamore as a holy thing and the yew as a temple without walls. some of us fight by lighting small flames on the windowsill every afternoon—even though their presence cannot be felt by anybody except the soft bodies that dwell within the country of these walls, this home in which we have given God a bed to sleep in, a chair in which he sits reading poems to the holy crones with moss in their bleached hair. you would not believe it, how they weep at the sound that rises from the lungs of the world right now, the low lament, how they wonder over bread and sour wine whom to send to pull the scraps of wool from the thickets, the lost courage from the spindly thorn of the bramble. some of us have made it a habit to be the light, how we wrap ourselves in peace at the end of each moment, how we have taught ourselves to breathe only the cup of air that lives inside the pause, that thin place where things are often lost—see how our fingers are bleeding from holding on to beauty, from turning away. some of us will not be distracted, will not allow our mouths to become a womb for war—another mother’s child is worth more than a stone-in-the-hand, and i am the mother of a boy-child-becoming-a-man, do not think for a moment that i am not paying attention. i am my grandmother’s grandmother, and i am your child’s mother, and my name does not belong to anyone else, it is peace and peace and peace, and i am a map to the valley where the oak moss softens the rough edge of winter, the watery wet where the flag iris sets herself on fire, where the field mouse wraps herself around the furry shapes of her babies. i will not let myself be numbed by all the shiny distractions that glitter and cat-call from all the small screens, and all the bloated newspapers, and i will not allow my ears to belong to the impotent voices of all the pale men who plant lies in the hedgerows. no. some of us pull choice out of our frayed pockets seventy-times-seven times a day, and we look away so that we might see all the things that they do not want us to see—the fear on the other side of your fight, the flight behind your fear, and the way that you have folded your heart into just-one-more paper crane just-one-more-time, how your fingers know the sharpness of each edge, how you spend your days hoping for that one thing that you need—that one person, the numbers that will make it all better, the shape of that unborn miracle you are too afraid to trust for, and yet you fall asleep saying its name. some of us listen for the bell of a blue tit’s song ringing in another country, hearing all the words that you do not say. some of us are listening, hands on the belly of the earth, we wait for what we know will come, for what we know must come, because the weight is too much, and the stories are crying out to be told, and the ancestors are holding up their babies, and on nights when the air is liminal, all the gone grandmothers are dancing around the fire, their skirts hitched high, their patience as thin as a bride’s veil, their voices rearranging the atmosphere, and you might call them whatever you will, might call us whatever you want, we do not care, we will eat your words and freedom will bloom on our tongues, because time is a pregnant moon, and her waters are about to break. listen, and listen well. some of us are stitching all the secrets into place, all the hidden words. some of us are making space for their truth and we are not afraid of weapons, and we have seen this all before. we are old stories from long before there were gardens, we are wild stories, and ancient paths, the mist laced with ocean salt, we are the story tellers, the ones who birth, the women who listen for the sound of death as she sends the sleek raven with the final message. listen. listen. listen. the time for telling the beginning, is near.

© Liezel Graham 2021

Image by Montatip Lilitsanong on Unsplash.

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