Sleet taps the windows like a hundred hungry children as wind whips the house with a howl. The dead of winter is not dead at all, but alive and thrashing with an unholy chill.
Change is coming, but it may not be spring, not the lush, fertile landscape of possibility, but a thaw come to a ravaged field where it was too cold to bury the dead where they lay when they fell, too many dead to look upon when finally the snow is blown and melted and becoming the water we drink. No matter any more which side the dead stood with on the field. Only the chill of knowing each was important to someone, was born to a mother, held a heart, fought for something.
She is quickening, the One in me.
Making me hungry, demanding nourishment, attention, and fire to grow whole and fierce and full before She comes, before She is needed. I want to scream, to rail and fight right now, today. “Don’t waste your energy,” She whispers from within. “This is just the beginning.”
“Get strong now.”
I move to answer the door, grab the phone, lend my voice to an argument, but She bolts the lock, sends people to voicemail, disrupts my wifi. “Not this,” She whispers. “No, child.”
So I eat berries, drink syrups, brew tea, and grind herbs to strengthen Her emergence. I stock my pantry and struggle to anticipate the future needs of my most useful self.
“Not enough,” She growls gently, “do more.”
“But you are so vigorous, so strong in me already,” I protest.
“And they are savage and unapologetic. Don’t play small with your medicine,” She counters. “Winter will end, but the storm will not have passed. Greedy, insidious, oppressive, this storm.”
I organize my seeds, count my bottles, brew more tinctures, perfect my recipes, plan my raised beds, start my earliest vegetables. I am tired.
“Take a bath,” She says. “Read voices from the past, connect with the quiet angels in your archives,” She offers. “Learn so you can be ready.”
I bathe with soothing aromatics dispersed in a cup of milk. No time for blow dryers and brushes, my hair dries into a deep basket of wild curls. I study and I discover and I shudder at the history in my hands.
I am scared of the thaw, what we’ll see when this winter breaks open to reveal its carnage, terrified that hope itself will be dead on the field.
“They took milk and butter from my grandmother,” I say. “What will I do without?”
“Perhaps nothing,” She mutters. “Your grandmother’s garden had no scars of war when you ran through it, child. She remained your grandmother and her lilacs still came in spring,” She reminds me. “And yours is not the garden, or the milk, or the butter they will come for first.”
“Will my lilacs come back this year, do you think?”
I am trying to change the subject.
“You will have more urgent business than lilacs this year,” She scolds.
“Whether or not the lilacs come, you will be making room at your table,” She continues. “No time to waste worrying about whether the yard will be pretty,” She quips.
“They took my great-uncle, you know. To Bergen-Belsen. For his part in the resistance…” I trail off.
“I know,” She says. “In your bones, this.”
“Do you know,” I tremble, “when they will come for me?”
“Maybe never,” She spits. “But it won’t matter. You will awaken and I will be born and it will be our business when they come for the others. Perhaps before.”
“I… I don’t know how to show up for the others,” I whimper.
“No mind,” She quips. “You will.”
“When they come for the others, perhaps before, you will choose death over dormancy. You will awaken and I will be born.”
“Who will stand with us, do you think?” I wonder.
“Don’t care,” She snarls. “Matters only where we plant our feet, to whom we open our doors, our hearts. Not important who is with us.”
“I’m going to have to change,” I realize.
“Yessssss,” She hisses. “And much.”
“That’s good,” I think and feed my dogs, collect the eggs, tend my chickens. I plan meals, schedule travel, get down to the business of my business. Bills are paid, challenges addressed, emails written.
I care less about the news and more about the stars. I grow weary of trite conversation and hungry for engagement.
I watch the ones trying to legitimize power-over and my power-from-within surges. I cringe at the ones giving away their power and cover them in blessings and spells of protection. I listen for a knock or a scratch at the door.
I smile at the sun melting the snow in which I am sinking, outside in fresh air for the first time in weeks. I marvel at the inky black tanager at the feeder, the covey of quail bumbling around the aspens. She kicks violently and I rub my belly tenderly, knowing.
“It’s time,” I say, “but We must move quietly beneath the noise, speak in whispers below their bellowing, own the shadows on their walls.”
“It’s time,” I say again.
“Yes,” She answers, kicking once more. “Now,” She says.