this one’s for you, Aisling. X


a shrill ululation woke me from my doze.

sitting bolt upright, i felt the feral grin spread across my face.  it was time.  quickly, i untangled my naked form from the blankets that kept the nearly non-existant chill from my flesh as i rested – waiting for the fun to begin on this night of celebration.

as i emerged from the tent, i heard others doing the same.  i could not yet see them, as the darkness in this clearing was thick, as heavy as the humid air that carried it.  it was accented by the stars that hung hazily above, and by the flickering, ethereal dance of fireflies all around.

swiftly, i took up my torch and set it alight, as others were doing all around.  first small flames, and then larger ones leapt from the waxy rags wrapped around branches that we had all prepared before the sun went down on this place.  we had waited for darkness, as such a male symbol as the sun had no meaning or place in what was about to happen.  only the earth that held us, scenting the air with her richness.  only the air that caressed us, washing over our naked skin.  only the sweat that would soon pour from us.  only the fire that each celebrant kindled.  light bloomed all around the clearing as i held my own torch and began, as did the others, to advance.

there were only women present and, as we made our way to the pile of kindling at the centre of the clearing, i saw my own expression mirrored, all around me.  no grim faces, only smiles lit these women from within.  this night was to be a celebration – a casting and burning away of the old, a welcoming of the new.  we were all here for one woman, and for her alone.  mothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, daughters and friends – it was she we would be celebrating, and her final soughing off of all that had gone before.  we were here to see our sister gloriously reborn.

as we all reached the pile, we held for a moment and then, as one woman, we thrust our torches into the base of the bonfire.  it caught quickly, and soon was roaring.

in its light, we painted.

our bodies were our canvasses, and we smeared and swirled colours and shapes over our own and each others’ bodies.  blue and green and blood-red, we smiled and laughed and shouted as the drumming began.

and we danced.

soon, our bodies heated with the fire and the movement, but we danced on.  shrieking and  and singing our joy, we gave ourselves up to the fierce spirit within – whirling, undulating bodies in the firelight and shadows created a three-dimensional mural that lived and breathed and cried joyously for simply being what it was: woman – alive and free.

the dancing and singing gradually quieted as she entered the clearing, carrying straw-crafted symbols of her previous existence.  she came alone, head held high, proud of herself and what she had achieved. one pair of eyes at the gathering watched her more intensely than any other, and i smiled as i noted the expression on her lover’s face – proud and elated and suffused with lust.

our sister approached the fire and, with a loud and clear “Fuck you!” for each, cast them into the flames, one by one.

the chorus of cheers and ululations around the fire was almost deafening, nearly drowning out the drumming that began once again.  it was faster, deeper, thrumming harder than the heartbeat of lovers reunited after a long absence.

and the dancing went on.

somewhere amidst the celebrating, she and her lover slipped away.  every now and then, i heard a wild cry that made me smile wider and dance harder. they were each starting a new chapter in the book of their lives, and each one would be co-authored by the other.  their new home was now within each others’ arms – no matter where they found themselves in the world – they would carry that home with them in their hearts.

we danced until we dropped, exhausted, where we stood. the next day’s dawn found a clearing full of smiling, slumbering women, as naked as the day they were born.