Begin in the middle of things.
Honor the sacred in the world,
in ourselves. Beneath the warm
sun, we bless and also receive
For a moment, they are there, we think —
glimpsed just on the edge of vision,
a version of us clad in the world, in the deep
green of a summer afternoon. It could
be a trick of the light, shadows
through oak leaves. It could be nothing.
In the old days we used fire.
Perched on the edge of sight
I counted the offerings while
my brother lit the fields.
The trees watched us work
in silence; only the dead
and dying, those needing passage
to the next life, dared look us
in the eye. The weeds, the fields —
everything was cleansed after
the harvest. The people thanked us.
They bring us plenty, a full
harvest, easy grain and honey just there
for the taking, so we do. Falling
into sleep, the world begins its dream
of dreams. It wraps itself in the sacred;
a brown cloak of tinder that
flutters in the wind, telling secrets
we no longer understand. We save
just a bit as an honorific, leaving
it beneath the linden tree before a storm.
There’s a certain beauty in the simple
fear of the unknown. The swirl of fog
on an autumn morning. The tick-tick
of mice beneath the floor. The dead,
scratching at the windows.
That night it rained and I
clapped my hands in delight
as my brother, scornful
of the tiny flames
in hearths and candles,
linked arms with the ghosts
and set the village ablaze.
We wait by the door, impatient like
children, listening for the whisper of
breath on snow, watching for the return
of pale light slanting through branches.
Who knows what miracles the human heart
is capable of? What miracles we can manifest?
It’s only later, when the world
begins to crumble and blur
at the edges do we think to ask
what we might have done better.
This is our wisdom:
Fire is only a dream of the sun
remembered by the forest. From embers
arise the newly born, covered
in the death of those who came
before. Blackened seeds give
birth, knowing the path
of their own consumption.
Above, the meadow sighs
and opens its arms.
We plant rosemary and rue, thyme
and cornflower. We make ourselves
beautiful. We sing, and capture
birds to fill the air, their voices
raised with our own. We plant, and
when those seedlings die, we plant
There are only a few, old mothers
who remember the true cost of loving
the world. They sigh and shake
their heads when we implore them
for hope. Let it go, they say
with sad smiles. Let it go.
We are Nature’s caprice,
the Rota Fortunae of the green.
The kiss of a wasp’s sting
on a hot summer’s day.
We’ll survive, my brother and I,
because we know the price of fire.
Planting ourselves within the ashes, growing
a new world wilder than you
could ever imagine.
[Lynette Mejía writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror prose and poetry from the middle of a deep, dark forest in the wilds of southern Louisiana. Her work has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Nature: Futures, and Strange Horizons, among others, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the Rhysling Award and the Million Writers Award. You can find her online at http://www.lynettemejia.com.]