The sun was fierce that day,
relentless even in its shadow. Heat
clung to the walls and troubled
the air like a presence almost seen.

She bent above the shallow bowl,
pressing on the crush of wheat,
grinding each stubborn hull beneath
her clenched tool. Sweat trickled
like a steady itch along her scalp.

She paused, still gripping the pestle,
and lifted her head back wearily.
An oven . . . the room was an oven,
and she, the crumble of grain.

But now a sudden silence”
no babble from the street,
no wailing of the neighbor’s child,
no buzz of flies, no pounding hammer,
or slam and slide of board on board;

only a pounding along the flat plane
of her temples. It was as if
a summer storm had gathered
in the suffocation of this room”
had caught her unaware, uncovered,
and hung in wait above her,
pressing, pressing down . . .

And into the heat a cold fire centered,
like a gathering of lightning unreleased.
Slowly she stood, pestle clutched tightly.
Fear whipped down her back,
encircling her, etching through the
tightness of her skin,
gripping across her belly like an omen.

“MARY!” That was all.

She turned with a sudden pivot,
dropping her useless tool;
and Love spoke softly, from the gathering
of shadows and of heat, and from the
steady glowing of the cool Fire.

As on the First Day, so it was . . .
As in the Beginning, so it was . . .

Articles by Judith D. Dupree

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