If There Were Other Lives

If there were other lives, this is the best
I remember. If there were other lives,
this is the one I must choose, though
there are days when the father-god, crafted
through the centuries into a violence of
thunder “I am a jealous god” nearly topples
me down with despair. Have I done enough
political kneeling, worshipped dutifully
the importance, magnified, a flurry of nothing,
disembodied in abstraction? How unimportant I
am, mere woman in the scheme of things, blinded
by the fear and gold of adoration, just
in time that all the suffering around me
comes into my eyes as a bearable haze.
If there were other lives, this is
the best. I must love. I must live
for the days when the mother-god touches
me simply, suddenly, say as I kneel
for replanting African violets in the dark
fragrance of earth that crumbles all around
my hands. How come I have never done this
before? What kept me from this love
whose power fills me with body and purpose?
Demeter, Mother of Earth, Dea Mater. I
promised a whole life to love, how can I
hope to cherish all at once? Later it will be
something else. The roaches, though, Dea Mater,
whom I will never learn to love, I trust
you could just make them go away, yes?
If there were other lives, this is the best
I have chosen. Ancient words of witches
haunt me down into this language, “you,
when you choose a body, when you hesitate before
a womb, be careful with the choice, you have
to live the life.” And depending on the living
nerve, despair or love, I lie down into the night
muttering my “rotten choice,” or drifting
deep into the feathers of a smile. If
there were others lives . . . this is
as dreams mingle with me and dance.

[Beate Sigriddaughter, www.sigriddaughter.com, is poet laureate of Silver City, New Mexico (Land of Enchantment). Her work has received several Pushcart Prize nominations and poetry awards. In 2018 FutureCycle Press will publish her poetry collection Xanthippe and Her Friendsand Červená Barva Press will publish her chapbook Dancing in Santa Fe and Other Poems in 2019.]