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Oakland, CA 2014

In late afternoon, we gather in her kitchen,
six or seven women, sometimes a brave man or two.
Light-filled room, beyond the back porch
a patchwork of trees and other houses,
a feast on the kitchen table:
bowls of nuts, plates of cookies,
cups of coffee, glasses of lemon-mint water.

Our voices laugh and murmur, rise and fall,
until Elaine suggests that we begin:
a topic is chosen, timer set,
silence descends, and pens are put to paper.
She gently guides us as we move
from one subject to the next; we write
of secrets hiding in the chambers
of our souls, frozen fears, old aches
and open wounds, the stream of love,
flowing or blocked; memories that
charm us, haunt us, move us; courage,
how we bear the unbearable; and finally,
the desires that call to us, that float us up
to the blue heavens. We read our writings aloud,
unless reading the outpourings of the heart
to ourselves is more than enough.

Sacred time, when we invite our souls
to come forth in a ritual as old
as the dawn of language, when the tribe gathered
around a fire in a cave and gave birth
to myths and legends; now we sit in a circle
and tell our stories, rewriting
the myths of our lives.