The neighbor’s bamboo wind chimes
clink together in the afternoon breeze,
gliding in so warm and sultry from the west.
But all I hear are the rattling bones…
all I have known this year is the Crone.
She has spread her cloak wide
like a Valkyrie soaring above the battlefield,
like a vulture swooping in for the feast —
her claws sinking deeply into sorrow and regret,
her raspy throat swallowing down aborted dreams.
She has come for the ones who bore us,
the women who pushed us down into the dark tunnel
to emerge screaming and grasping for the light.
Now they, too, must face the velvety blackness.
Now they, too, must reach for illumination.
“We must be born to die,
and we must die to be born,”
the Old One whispers to me softly,
while the marsh grasses sway like a serpent
and her long, white hair whips about her wizened face.
I want to curl up in her arms
and dry my tears with her ragged sleeve,
but I know this is not the comfort she gives.
Hers is the emptiness of the prairie,
the vastness of the desert, the freedom beyond grief.
Her words fill up the space inside of me,
swirling and churning around my heart,
until I can see the endless cycle through her ancient eyes.
Creation and destruction, birth and death —
the head and the tail are one and the same.