Kij Johnson

Calling the gods

They come to certain sounds:
the great drum, the flutes,
the clapping of hands.

She feels them gather.
The air is thick with gods,
like water gelling into ice,
like ice itself,
thick and cold and silent.

She chants the prayers.
They pour from her,
toxins lanced by a knife so sharp
she does not feel its edge.
The infection runs deep,
thick and cold.

But her prayer means nothing.
It is the scraped
and beaten air that calls them,
the bruise of drum and flute.
Her words are the breath
between notes.
They wait for the sound.

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© 2004 Kij Johnson