Tales And Secrets (Before The Tales Begin Revisited)

The old woman hovers near the woodstove
and drags a calloused hand across her crinkled forehead
as if wiping away smoke and sweat.
She pauses, looking;
her eyes flash between her fingers
and strike my soul.

I feel her in my mind,
looking,
searching,
all the while reading the history there.

Where have I gone on the avenues in my life?

Her hand falls from her face;
her gaze floats above the stove
and absorbs the glow of coals inside
before it reaches through the door.
Her fingers curl and seize an ember
like a vise to etch a jagged pattern in the air.
Her fingers part and the small red star falls to the black oak table
and knocks a fear in the depths of my stomach.

I wander through the city streets of my past,
lost,
smelling smoky incense that once meant something:
a sweet perfume that led me to intelligent light
that flung away my darkness
and sparked new life inside my soul.

A violent motion—
her fingers stab the black oak floor,
then snatch a pile of bones lying white:
old knuckles, toes and vertebrae—
some with fur and flesh intact.

I feel the devil of my fears
step through the darkness
to anoint me with his hideous prophecies
my mother spoke of when I was a child.

The old woman holds the bones in her palm;
they float before her eyes that sparkle
the way the night stars flare
on a cloudless night.

I float above the wires of my nerves
trembling like a lake spilling over.

“Suojata,” she barks;
a wave of gnarled arm
and the bones fly like shooting daggers to my heart.
I clutch my breast
while her cavernous mouth cracks a laugh before the tales begin.

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