Beltane Alone,
By Catt Kingsgrave

My ribband is woven in;
Year upon year is plaited over it by hands my own have touched, and never touched.
The maypole grows thicker by a layer of family each first of May that passes,
And it is a comfort to imagine the feel of them, strangers in face, family in name,
Twining over me and mine of older years.

But there is no plait in my hand today but my own tresses,
And these, I bind up tight against paint and cleanser and the fight to stave off entropy and dust.
Today there is no fire leaping in my circle,
No leaping kisses o'er the flames,
No wishing cup, no sunwise dance, no flower crown,
And Crabapples, not Hawthorns, bloom.

And all within me is the feeling of waiting.
As though Beltane is for others now, and from me the world wants only patience.
(I am not patient. Tolerant, perhaps, but not patient.)
It seems Samhain stays with me this year, dusting sage and sour-leaf smoulder through blossom's perfume,
Crunching sodden last-years underfoot where others tread tender new green.

And yet I am not jealous. Only outside it somehow.
Adrift along the wheel, carried by a tide I neither fight, nor understand,
But still aware;
That somewhere a family circles around my thread,
That somewhere wishes and kisses are traded along a circle that knows my name
That somewhere, haws blossom white,
Sweet wine and sweeter bread is shared from hand to hand,
And Beltane's lush indulgence makes friends forget the winter.

I seek outside this grey and grisly morning, blue bowl dry in hand,
Three Orisha, Aphrodite, and Aeternia salt-crusted to the bottom, in company with a single copper penny.
I am hunting rainwater in the grass.
Diamonds speckle the leaves and blades, beautiful, but too fragile to collect.
Hazard-dropped catches, (lids, empty flowerpots, pet bowls, wheelbarrows) too muddied, too cluttered with wind-debris to suit.
At last, irony yields the answer; plastic, obsolete and unnatural as any chimera, forms a perfect azure pool
Grist and sodden petals lurk at the bottom, but in between, the medium is clear as air and numbingly cold.

A drizzle first to loosen the salty days dried within,
Left hand stirring widdershins until the midnight bowl is milky and rattling
Then out it pours across the threshold,
The Ladies and their pence strained out through ruddy fingers,
And back to the plastic wellspring.
The second dip's not quite so cold, and then the bowl is full again.

I will take a moment to taste of it in silence,
Then bring it inside with me,
To sweep the winter's dust from my home and heart,
And to remind me why somewhere this day,
People are dancing together.