ritual for the longest night
night is here & i am opening my door to her,
summoning her in, quelling lamp, quenching flame,
scattering incense: black cardamom, pepper, clove, black salt.
i want her to enter in stealth, her feet to claw my threshold,
moths to hover in clouds about her ebony head: argent
& sable, feathered gothic, muslin, mullein, vestal, ghost.
i want her smoke not fire, her ink distilled from embers,
limbs etching the chalked moon, indigo tinting my eyes.
i jaw my mouth wide to imbibe her as medicine, as black milk.
the embalmer dreams of death
death of gloved palm/ death of cell & stain
death of taint & harm/ death of stigmata & pain
death of rag & gunpowder/ death of bone & flower
death of vessel narrowed/ death of breath choked
death riding a buffalo/ death swinging a noose
death hurling a mace/ death of green skin/ death
of red-fire eyes/ death of boar tusks/ death with its
four-eyed dog/ death as minor god/ death as ruler
death as judgement/ death as ten gilded gates to the
underworld/ death as seven heavens/ death in his
ruby-glistered palace/ death in her lapis-lined tomb
death at twilight/ death at dawn/ death at noon
Gita Ralleigh is a writer and NHS doctor. She has been published by Wasafiri, Magma Poetry, Under The Radar and The Rialto among others. Her debut A Terrible Thing was published by Bad Betty Press in 2020 and her pamphlet Siren is forthcoming in August 2022 from Broken Sleep Books. You can find her on Twitter @storyvilled.
photo by Corina Rainer (via unsplash)