Beltane: A Birthday, A Bear, A Binding

My skin gathers in a film around the quartz, mica and bones
of this land that sit like mothers on our window sills, on this longer
day than yesterday, when I turned twenty-nine on the twenty-ninth.

The night before my birthday, our beer bottles and sticky cans
were scattered, bird feeders knocked down, scarred lids
and buckets of seed emptied, peppered down the terraces of this hill.

A bear, lumbering beneath and up the ponderosa where I have hung
and knelt with you to birthe our boy, reached for feeders, spilt them
over sage. There is not a seed left on the ground where she licked.

And tomorrow, we will sit beneath the broken bough,
on licked ground imagining her hungry tongue,
halfway between spring and summer, smoking

a cherrywood pipe, cutting our hair with a hunting knife,
braiding our locks into threads of red, yellow, white and each other,
tying off the end with black, where death is. There will be grey hairs,

and blond, from you, henna from me, and somehow they will wind,
fingers reaching over fingers, and under, into each other, this love
medicine, this charm for two for whom these twisting hairs sing.

Year after year, we will make a longer, thinner braid,
leaving bald patches hidden in our hair, already growing
to replace what was lost in our joining.


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