you get caught up in the avalanche
or gravity and speed down paths
bouncing and chipping.
You accumulate dents, leave
paint flakes and broken pieces strewn
like wedding rice behind you.
Then one day the universe shifts.
The planets align or Mercury isn’t in retrograde; there isn’t a full moon.
You spin to a stop. Fetch up against some rock, a boulder that scrapes skin.
After the bruises and the bloodletting, after the sprains and torn muscles, broken bones knit enough
to bear weight— it may not be pretty.
Scrabbling on hands and knees.
Levering yourself upright with a deadfall tree branch-
you stand. Retching and dizzy.
You look back. There is no going back.
Its all lava or flood.
So you limp forward through fog, smoke or sudden startling patches of too-bright light as tight as a burst wine-skin with grief.
But a berry offers itself to your parched lips. A thrush chortles in the trees, and bit by bit as you inch along
tattered fragments of yourself float into your field of vision.
In the tang of berry on your tongue or the scent of camp fire smoke. You are
here and there at once. You tie your torn jacket to make a satchel and pick each remnant from the thorns that hold it and layer them, soft as spider silk in your bag.
One day you won’t be bleeding anymore, bruises will fade, and the bag will be shiny with fullness—all the portions of yourself you’d thought you’d had to jettison to save yourself. You’d never stopped missing them.
One night by candlelight in a cabin high up a snowy mountain, you will spread these pieces across a table or bed or the floor and marvel at the god who made sure that of all the thousands, the ones you needed most turned up here
And you put yourself back together.
Rachael Ikins is a prizewinning author and visual artist. Her artwork has hung in galleries from Albany to Oswego & Washington DC. She is associate editor of Clare Songbirds Publishing house and graduated from Syracuse University. She has had 8 books of poetry and a fantasy novel published by 3 publishers. Her work appears in journals around the world. She and her animal family live by a small lake in snow country. You can read more of her writing at Writerraebeth’s Weblog