it was a lush, green and  dewy late morning. I was well dressed for the season: face mask, hat, black jacket, black leggings, black socks  and my comfortable bright orange shoes I wear on walks so cars can see me even in my darkest sulk.

she led the way having been here before, which I prefer. not always oppositional; in fact, when it comes to other women I defer.  the trees were budding so still a bit sparse but their leaves were coming in bright where they were. no flowers yet but the idea of them drove me outside daily. despite the warning to stay home I was more outdoors than ever. the smell of jasmine and honeysuckle luring me, taunting me. who is who? each says. they always smell the same to me so I find joy in discovering which is which. 

I am here and in my childhood backyard with my best friend licking the nectar from the vine that grew along my fence. turn to her, red-cheeked and ebullient, expectant, tiny hands pressed to the metal and tongue free. the way only seven years of age can be before the tongue is tucked bashful, body grown diffident with time.  today I am close to all of it but tempered from euphoria, resting in here; the sniffing of the white flowers, the squish of mud patches. I am here and a few other places. let my fingers trace the petals and sniff knowing her crown: jasmine. we walked  along long beds of clovers a short distance before stopping. to the side of us, skunk cabbage grew big and juicy glistening with last night’s rain. any time I stepped into the woods, I wanted to be an insect.

 I wanted the smallest world. to be among the the detritus recycled. feel mud engulf me and writhe in its soft center, sink and hide underneath. feel steps above me. not shy but unseen.  wanting to be lost in a sea of green blades. to see these monsters the way they were meant to be seen. I always thought like that. like anything was stopping me from bending down and sliding my tongue along the long leaves right now. like I wasn’t pint sized and shrinking already. or like I wasn’t more criminal than that: predacious and intent on acting on it; squeezing first then picking up the butter knife to saw the worms in half. 

we didn’t go far just far enough to stretch and get some use of ourselves. get out of the house.  take down our masks.  breathe freely in public.

“do you want to stop here?” she asked, waving her hand over a small valley.

 I squatted down in the center of a patch of dirt with roots protruding from a near distant tree. we were in front of a tiny creek with a little nature made bridge, a fallen log, to cross. I could feel my knees crack. remember throwing the jasper in the stream.  things I can’t name are always lingering. they are felt like chords rippling from my center and always felt strongest when being cut one by one.  a sudden electric vibration emits as they fall away and I am left holding one end, or rather, letting one end stay suckled to me. my making, I lament, or the hook in mouth I fell for.  I picked up a stick and drew the R big.  I made a deal to write it.

R. I drew not so big but with a steady hand so

it was neat and almost cursive.

it could get rained on and stomped

on, but there was my indent.

and  I stated louder.

“I call Lilith first.”

I looked up at my companion.  it is not austerity, it is commitment. loyalty is love’s true manifestation. I still have every recitation I’ve ever honored. somewhere, these things stay suckled to me like little violent chords I strum when people disappear. when I’m watching ceilings at night, I take my finger and I press. it is not austerity for honor but rather commitment to an end. the pious aren’t lonely, just waiting. 

“What does Lilith represent?” she asked me, standing, looking down. 

I was most comfortable in mud as a kid. now I am just trying not to touch my face. this urge takes over until I press my palms back in the sigil, feel the dampness of the floor and hopeful. expectant. which doesn’t last anymore but impacts. 

“Her myth precludes that she was the first woman on Earth. She rejected Adam as he tried to force her beneath him in missionary. She left to mate with demons in the sky instead.”

(there was more that I said in the chant but it is private the way things are private among friends.)

“Oh yeah. We need her,” she laughed.

we both laughed. we both laughed and I put the twig in my pocket. I still have some of my oldest recitations. shells from my first home. dirt from the catacombs somewhere (in a yellow bowl). got pieces of pieces grown quite lush like well drunk ferns. an oasis in my house I sip at night when the little violent chords get plucked one by one by one. I watch  the ceiling shade itself and touch the other end.  I call them one by one.

“the pious”

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