(quoted with permission from Raven Kaldera’s “Dark Moon Rising” published by Asphodel Press, 2006.)
You don’t like us.
We are the black blotch on the colorful rainbow.
We are the sudden shudder as
Bodies are innocently exposed –the rings
Through the flesh, the pictures in the skin,
Perhaps the marks of knives, of razors, of brands.
Perhaps short-lived marks of crimson and purple,
The colors of royalty. But these are worse,
You think, for they are a slap in the face
That this was no souvenir from a decadent youth
Unless that youth ended just last night.
When you said that this was a community where
Anyone could choose to be what they wanted,
Anyone could choose how they would love,
How they would fit their bodies together, you didn’t
Really mean it. You didn’t mean this,
You didn’t mean these choices.
But this is the price of freedom,
Of offering those sacred choices. Sooner or later,
Someone will choose something
That makes your breath stop in your throat,
Your belly turn in fear. You don’t like us,
Or our choices, and if anyone can make you believe
That perhaps choice is not such a good thing,
It might be us.
You don’t like us.
We confuse you. It was taught that those
Who undergo this pain are broken,
Are weakened, damaged…yet we walk tall,
Holding high our heads. We laugh, we joke, we pursue
Each other, we cook and tend gardens
And raise children, just like everyone else.
We stubbornly refuse to hear you when
You tell us how wrong we are; your words
Fall empty before the truth spoken by our flesh.
You would hide your children from our eyes,
Our marks, our tongues, the shadows we move in
And out of. Even if you grudgingly agree
That we are strong.
There is no way that we can pretend to be
Yes, that at least is so.
You hold within yourself the image of evil
Created by the ills of society,
How it looks, how it smells and we
On the surface, seem to be a good match.
We are just close enough to frighten you,
Just far enough away to confuse you,
And you would blot us out rather than struggle
With those contradictions, those ambiguities
That shift the solid ground beneath your feet.
We point to your revered past and laugh,
Showing you hooks in ancient flesh, symbols
Cut with blades of stone, needles of bone,
The sacred plants burnt to ash and rubbed into the blood,
Blood, blood, the altars ran with it and we
Add our own to that ancient scarlet flow. We point to
Woden on the Tree, Inanna stripped and beaten,
Persephone raped, Gullveig three-times burned,
Fenris, Loki, Prometheus chained, the Corn-King
Cut down and threshed and devoured, Shiva’s corpse
Disemboweled by his skull-hung mistress as She
Makes use of His dying member, and all
The other dark hands that did the deeds.
These are our Gods,
We say, and They are your Gods too
Whether you will or no.
That word, “primitive”, we see it differently. No room
For idealized, pretty tales. Our ancestors
Scrambled and crawled across thorns
To survive, to do more than survive, to find these
Crumbs of wisdom that are our inheritance.
And if we think that under our
Smooth exteriors and shining toys we are
Any better, any less flesh that gives way to thorns
Then we are merely blinded fools,
And we deserve the pain unlooked-for
Rather than the ordeal we choose
With open arms, with open heart,
Legs spread wide to take in holy lightening,
Going as to the bridal bed in joy.
For we have bared our throats to the Darkness
And lived to draw the map.
(from the “Conclusion” p. 423-425).