Coffee is the way to call the old gods.
Brew as black as Earth,
the stink of skunk,
the bean from a country
I will never see. I smell it,
the aroma swirling into my nostrils
like incense fumigating an unholy place.
Then a sweet purple light to call the goddess.
Purple as lavender, as green as sage,
the yellow-white flame blinds me
and purifies me of all that is the result
of the bad chemicals in my brain.
I pull one still-black hair from my scalp,
and sizzle it in the solitary flame.
I call my mother’s ancestors with the patchwork quilt.
O Grandmother, put your arms around me now
and dance with me, you
who thought dancing was a sin from the devil.
The rhythm called you to the worship of your own body,
O Grandmother, that your god held a corruption of sin.
Rock and roll drums, O Grandmother–
drink the coffee and inhale the flame
and jump with me to the crazy rhythm of drums,
and stomp out the bad chemicals in my brain,
stomp up the heat of the magma
in the center of the Earth
so that it flares up between our legs and impregnates
us with things having nothing to do with men.
This is what your god feared, O Grandmother,
this power that he could never have
and so forbade to us. Drink the coffee
as all light fades except the lavender-white
flame of the earth goddess pulsing in our veins
with the drumbeat of rivers, this purification.
Anoint me, O Grandmother, with night-damp Earth.
[Rebecca Bailey is currently a ranger with the National Park Service. She taught writing for more than a decade at Morehead State University in Kentucky. She has published six books, most recently the poetry collection Meditation Upon the Invisible Ceremony of the Breath (Finishing Line Press). She has recently been published in SageWoman, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Arts Perspective,Canyon Legacy, and Moab Sun News, and lives in Utah and Idaho.]