Beside the Altar

by Alison Leonard

 

3 candles

Went on my own to dancing – Martin’s back was stiff,
he’d been shifting his dead father’s blacksmith’s stuff –
and as soon as the music reached me through the door
I was in rhythm. Taff the hairy punk poet was leading,
his words drifted straight through to movement
without going through the head.
For a while I was partnered with a young woman
Sarah, and she was wilder than me because younger
but she saw my wildness
and rose to it like a candle to a flame.

So I came to trance, to dance-peak, to orgasm quickly
and the task of the remaining dance
was to absorb it

and at last I lay
curled up like a tired baby
beside the altar.

Altar? It was a scarf scattered with stones,
a basket of lavender and two formal candles.
I lay gazing at the shape and movement
of each flame, raising my arm
so that each hand, each palm,
was lit
and lying, trance-like,
love for my daughter flowed and flooded
mingled with love and fear
for the war, for the wars.

Time enough to lie and gaze,
to gaze in the big dancing mirror
at other dancers,
their spirit joined unquestioningly
with mine. And once I hauled myself up
and gazed at me gazing back at me
and loved myself too, and rubbed some lavender
between my fingers
and Sarah came and rubbed some too.

Then I lay down again, and love poured through me
and through the glowing candle until the dance was done.

©Alison Leonard.

 

Alison Leonard

Alison Leonard

Alison Leonard has written fiction and drama for adults and children. She is a Quaker who also treads a goddess path.
Alison Leonard

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