Hospitality need not wear a human face
but welcomes both the stranger and the friend,
offers a meal, secures for them a place
to rest from travel, and perhaps to mend.
It is the door that opens, it is the hand
that lightens the load or offers the cooling glass
the sharing of the meal, an offer to stand
to let another sit or let them pass.
It does not judge by wealth but by the grace
with which the gift is given—and received.
Not sacrifice, but sharing; not complaisant
but aware and willing to be pleased.
Hospitality is a kind host and a pleasing guest
and in these open arms we all may rest.
Piety is not the dip of the head in prayer,
reciting of holy words, or gifts of wealth.
It is not the burden of knick knacks on the shelf
that holds your shrine, or the sweetening of air
from costly incense. No, it is the breath
taken in silence, the aching gasp of pain
that shakes you, the shivering fall of rain
reminding you no mortal can cure death.
Piety is the mindful, straining heart
that rarely forgets the bounty it is given,
that never regrets the times that it’s been riven
to open it to the Powers’ glorious arts.
Piety breaks the heart that loves it most
Again and again, till it mends, a ready host.
Etan whose voice makes music out of words
whose son shamed stingy Bres to leave the throne
whose husband hurled the heavy champion’s stone
whose thoughts flow from her tongue like herds
of bounty. You know the graceful weave of lines,
the meter’s call, alliteration’s singing
beat, the punning words whose double meaning
dips and dances through the patterned rhymes.
With words you unfold the worlds but to your will—
The battle won, the people wise and well,
the family whole, you weave your dictive spell
Your worlds are truth, though formed out of your skill.
No warrior stands against a poet’s tongue
their battle lost ere they have yet begun.
The light of his face is greater than my eyes
can bear; the lightning in his hair so crackling bright
I cannot move in the prison of his sight.
Though his spear is at my throat, I can’t disguise
the emptiness that wallows in my heart.
At his touch, my chest swings open like a door–
my heart in his hand, a stone that beats no more,
a lifeless jewel, an insult to his art.
He moves to crush it, then cradles it in his hand,
breathes into it light-sparked breath; it starts to beat
a dancing rhythm. He returns it to its seat.
Enclosed, it flutters, but answers his command.
Alive, the cage of ivory holds it fast,
But dancing in me it sets me free at last.
It is putting one foot before the other that crosses
the sea. One step, one stroke of the oar, one wave
breaking over your head. It is the loss
of every precious thing you tried to save
but couldn’t hold. It is the opening out
of every hidden flow into the gaze
of those you’d love to love you. It’s the shout
that breaks from you when lightning blazes
from feet to skull and shatters the fragile eggshell
of the life you thought you wanted. It is the day
you wake up knowing the well is dry, the knell
of a dream ending. This is the only way.
The journey unfolds one step, one breath at a time
And though I drown, I won’t forsake what’s mine.
Let me forget your name, O Dancer of Storms,
and know you instead as the breeze caressing my skin,
in the wind that waves the tree, in the deafening din
of the gale that runs before you. My heart warns
that names are dangerous, limiting things. No grace
can come of trying to bound you, trying to bind
a tempest into a story in my mind,
to a people, or to a time, or to a place.
Who can grasp the storm, who bind the wind?
I am not such a fool to hold you still.
I’ll fly with the wind – buffet me as you will –
Throw wide the windows and let the storm come in!
Let me forget your name and ride the blast—
Teach me to forget my own and be free at last.
To dance with Lugh, you dance the coming storm:
The shivering wind, the rain that steals your breath,
Blinded by light, you allemande with death
In joy, whirling your way to be reborn.
His spear strikes home. An ecstasy of pain
Places fire in your heart that spreads to every limb,
Your tongue unhinged to sing the lightning’s hymn
Elided by memory, but scribed in you like your name.
He changes that, too, as he lifts your broken heart
From the cage of your chest to crack it on the stones,
Breathes on it instead, and when it begins to beat alone
Returns it to you. He is the master of every art.
This storm can hold your heart in its tender hand
Or call the dance at the limit of your command.