Ritual No. 72

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The strands of her hair are strung with a thousand eyes. Glossy wet marbles rattle and blink with each swelling current, each plume of hot vented air. All day the washing and now its reward. She radiates frenzy in blue orange flashes. There is safety in this. The knowing of what is done and what is yet to come. Her protective adaptation. Her cup is filled with new water and the ashes of stars. Above the wooden fence are eyes. Between the slit of the curtains always eyes. Next door every night constant smothering never turning eyes. The chasm in the brick wall breathes its balmy fragrance into her lungs. Vapor and dizzy and vision and gaze. Adder and moon snake perch peaceful on branches. Three doves swoop from the nest of lint in the dying oak tree. The slick grassy mud slides to swallow her feet. She slips, sinks, plants herself deep in the framed night garden. Her supplicants burn bay laurel, eat bindweed leaf and seeds. Swoon and stumble and watch and wait. Their silent earnest eyes ask and ask, pressed closer and closer against splinters and glass.

Ritual No. 8

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She cuts the edge of the lawn with the tiniest of scissors, each spear a strand of thread dripping of weld and woad. Between concrete and harvest she kneels towards ache and atrophy. She makes an art of the contrast that rests in that barrier. Float and crust and cool and keep. She weaves the words, “I am like you,” her voice the velvety slope. The sun at her sweaty neck burns its mark into her skin. Cut, cut, cut, and patch. Each gash and slit of yellow nubs releases abundant bitter milk. Warp and weft and dream and sleep. Bloated toads heave in the dirt, discarded buried beating hearts.

Ritual No. 24

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Dogwood petals fill the gutters like a fluttering snowdrift. See the women scurry, living sacramentals, unlocked from each box. A rush of brooms and rakes sweep and scrape, purging all proof of the fleeting blooms. On low branches the skinks bask in the sun, speaking their own truth and untruth, flicking their blue tails as they turn away. Hoses uncoil to wash the gutters clean. Pinned to the sky, above the tree, a mass of bumblebees hovers and hums. Along the edge of the hill below there comes a quiet crash. Children crush plastic birds and doll hands to meet the flood of petals flowing towards the sewage drain. So soon the street is the clearest gray. Only a shadow of tree remains. Running up the hill the children pluck the skinks from the dry bark. Each box locks again. Curls glisten under glowing clouds. Thin blue worms twitch, pinched between tiny fingers and thumbs.