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Woken in the half-light before dawn by ravens gathering in the neighboring trees, their insistent voices carrying calls from two blocks away through the half-closed bedroom windows where I rise. The air is cool, enough that when I went to bed alone last night, I pulled the comforter up around me to ward off wind gusts while I slept. The air silvers around me as the light comes on, along the Eastern ridgeline, the spine of the mountain as bare as a brave woman lying on her side. I look at my face in the mirror and wonder if you would recognize me now, you who have loved me across these lifetimes. I think not, for how often of late I do not recognize myself, bone and breath, memory and longing.

I placed a tiny temporary tattoo of an orange butterfly on the inside of my left wrist yesterday, remembering the curandera telling me that left is the way of spirit and the medicine man who mentioned the angel in the air above me with wings so flamed that their color melded gold and orange. I put the tattoo there to remind myself that transformation is a process, one that if rushed leads to undoing, with its body pointing to my heart along the pale purple and cobalt roadmap of my veins. Alone, in the morning air, my skin prickles, goose bumps rising along the casement of flesh, my neck puckering at the nape and my hair moving with its ripple. I wonder at morning chill and the first scent of fall in the air and how rebirth requires first a death and then I hear, from two rooms away, the click of a coffee mug on the glass-topped table and then my father’s laughter as he calls to me:  It ain’t over yet, kid. Rise up now, Dora. It’s really only just begun.

© 2017 Dora E. McQuaid

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