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The Journey

Some day, if you are lucky, you’ll return from a thunderous journey trailing snake scales, wing fragments and the musk of Earth and moon.

Eyes will examine you for signs of damage, or change and you, too, will wonder if your skin shows traces

of fur, or leaves, if thrushes have built a nest of your hair, if Andromeda burns from your eyes.

Do not be surprised by prickly questions from those who barely inhabit their own fleeting lives, who barely taste their own possibility, who barely dream.

If your hands are empty, treasureless, if your toes have not grown claws, if your obedient voice has not become a wild cry, a howl,

you will reassure them. We warned you, they might declare, there is nothing else, no point, no meaning, no mystery at all, just this frantic waiting to die.

And yet, they tremble, mute, afraid you’ve returned without sweet elixir for unspeakable thirst, without a fluent dance or holy language

to teach them, without a compass bearing to a forgotten border where no one crosses without weeping for the terrible beauty of galaxies

and granite and bone. They tremble, hoping your lips hold a secret,

that the song your body now sings will redeem them, yet they fear

your secret is dangerous, shattering, and once it flies from your astonished mouth, they-like you-must disintegrate before unfolding tremulous wings.

– Geneen Marie Haugen



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