I. Talitha koum, Little Girl, Get Up

LEAVING THE HOUSE

I remember standing the last in line

awaiting communion at a friend’s wedding.

When I reached the rail, the priest

judged my life and turned away.

Rooted in those raw moments

I stood, hoping he had overlooked me

or had gone back for more hosts––

but no; he resumed the Mass.

I turned then, returned to my seat.

Amazingly

it took a dozen more years

to leave that house where I was not wanted

when another man-of-god

a priest in Cambridge, Massachusetts

turned away from my outstretched hand.

I recognized the gesture and left the church.

YOU CAN GET THERE FROM HERE

I return to the cellar nightly

pressing my cupped ear against the unyielding side

of the water heater.

I crouch in the dark.

Gurgle and hum inside the tank

summon words sleeping within me

in waters older than time.

Mothers collectively cross my mind.

I rise, I walk,

I follow them through the dark

sensing my way.

SAIVA SARVA [Finnish/Lappish for reindeer as the shaman’s token animal]

You courted me when I was young

although I did not know your name,

only the shape you assumed in dream––

a hart. You chased me in a field

caught up and bumped me

from behind. I encircled your neck

with my arm and was lifted

into the night sky. Fearful

I  clung to you for life.

As we flew, fear faded

and I opened myself to the night.

Limbs outstretched I flew with grace

and wanted to see the face of my dead mother.

There she was, standing below

with others, looking up at me

and smiling full.

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