The Fourth Card Is The Empress

She danced around on the sidewalk in her gold strappy sandals. I watched her feet, while a man on a bench behind her focused entirely on her wide hips, like the Empress, ready to give birth to civilization, or another version of him … or me.

I don’t remember what she was saying, as I’m vulnerable to gold sandals in the middle of May, when the sky is blowing down nurturing tears at sunset, and I am sheltered by an air that embraces me in its matronly arms … so, I remember her feet were impatient, yet she talked with me.

I mentioned the man, sitting on the bench under a large, brutal black umbrella, though barely a drop was falling, and she laughed.

“No one ever checks me out. That happens so rarely … mostly I just stay in — I don’t go out — and wait.”

I protested the right amount, as I had already joked with her that I was stalking her, when she saw me standing in front of the grocery store, as if I was expecting her. I had just been talking to her not ten minutes ago, outside the elegant old building where our dance class is taught. And she was our teacher.

So, I couldn’t go overboard with shock, that she thinks men rarely check her out.

I mean, the strange, dark young man, sitting under his sinister umbrellas, was leering at her buttocks, not very well concealed by the stretchy, cotton-lycra dancer pants clinging to her hips …giving birth to civilization and the dreams of men to rule, to create, to procreate with the maiden poised at the height of spring.

What is the transition of maiden, mother,  crone, when she has skipped over the mother part …. Were we not her children in class tonight, as she taught us the moves, their purpose, their foundation, the intent of their practice and asked us to listen for ourselves, and our bodies in the music that must issue now from her belly round as night …

kisses our foreheads. Safe. Sound. Asleep between the folds its gentle mystery.

I sleep in the future because my mother made it safe for me to be present. Breathe her here. Arms expanding above my head, hands climb in swirls and story gestures instructed by the Empress .…

And no one checks her out?!

Out of fear? Respect? Awe? Love? Understanding that the needs of civilization, and all its children come first, she gives her gold feet ample room to dance alone, down the sidewalks, through the aisles.

I live in the future. Rain falls. Flowers grow. I safely return home and eat.

Not a breath goes by when I am not thanking her for life itself. Neither maiden, mother nor crone, she is Empress, guardian of the bridge I walk between worlds, looking down at the void, grieving all that is left behind, I walk alone, as does she.

On golden sandals, she turns left and leaves my side as quick as the turns she taught on the dance floor. The space at my side begs these small words. I write tonight, just as she promised I would.

[Gary D Aker lives in Portland, Oregon where he currently pursues dance, photography and creating his crime novels, in addition to writing lyrical and narrative poetry, flash fiction, sudden memoir, long-form memoir, articles, numerology charts and whatever else is lying about that needs to get written. His poetry and flash fiction has been recently published in Night Bomb Press, and The Smoking Poet.]

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