Against the tides of war

Some of the best dancing 

happens at home in the kitchen, 

in the living room. I don’t often

dance, but sometimes a body 

needs to shake off shame

of the world. Right now, I dance 

as if there were a deep ocean 

at the meeting of my thighs, 

one there to keep invasion 

at bay, a noble prevention 

of blown-out buildings, 

of bowed heads. All 

of the horrors that go 

with war. We have been 

watching them unfold, 

shocked, even though 

we knew they would come, 

knew they would be there 

in this new war. 

*

Long ago, the goddess looked 

straight ahead like a deer watching,

like a wolf, like a lion, a bear. 

She cast spells of love and justice 

with each spoken word. 

The goddesses today 

have been made into statues 

with lowered gazes 

as if the air were already dust.

*

I dance in the kitchen 

with lights on, music eases 

out of speakers. I want to dance 

hard enough to sweat, for rain 

to fall, for peace to be 

a spell we can still cast.

—Liza Wolff-Francis

Great Divine Mother Isis

You have helped the dead enter the afterlife,

The dead, who have carried their 21 grams 

of soul, so much less than a pound, 

even less than a kilogram, the weight of our essence,

a summation of all we have been and seen,

the weight of us and the depth 

of how we have loved.

Royal Isis, with a throne upon your head,

I beg you now to turn people away

from the land of the dead,

to evaluate the recent population growth there,

keep the gates closed to new entries.

On earth, it is a new moon, 

the night sky is dark and we are overwhelmed 

with death, can’t suffer its antics, 

its bad jokes, its salty cold tea. 

The songs of the mountains reach to us,

but we cannot hear the lyrics or the melodies,

just a whine of the hollowing of trees. 

We try to hold the colors of the sky, 

but instead, end up balancing its weight 

on the edges of our 21 grams.

It’s the fear, Isis, 

that we are beginning to hold of each other.

It began with the fear of contagion,

turned to fear of breath, of touch,

of all that makes us dangerously, gloriously human.

When people come in their full party dresses,

their holey pajamas, their strained smiles,

their chests gasping for air, ask them 

to turn back. 

Then take a vacation for yourself.

Close the afterlife down for another time

when we’re more ready with carnations,

waiting to say a proper goodbye.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

Image by Darla Hueske:: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sierragoddess/