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Long Beach, CA

The Rite of Spring

Poetry Blog

The Rite of Spring

Brandon Cook

I remember the ritual
Like an explorer from the brush I stumbled into it
Or around it, approximating an angle of approach not too close to the circle that surrounded them
My eyes wide but feigning calm

They were locked in a ceremony I had never seen
We are all, at some point, adventurers discovering rites and tribes, and at first our own and our own self
But strangely I already understood it, and I could feel it coursing through me
We all felt it moving through us like current

David stood on the blacktop with Laura
Circled by a crowd so anxious and so full of energy, you could see their own longing bound up in expectation, their own necks on the line, sheep to be slaughtered who cannot look away

It was a warm day, warm enough for us to return outside, and the blood flowed like sap, just before the summer, when
We would fill our days with growing into all the expectations just stirring in our bodies

I craned my neck above the circle
Fully emerged from the brush and hushed, in wonder, holding my own heart
As someone yelled, “Ask her!”
And the ancient chorus rose, waiting for the letting go

Some were dancing, literally unable to contain the tension
The boys and girls intermingled, rippling as one as if a god’s spirit poured over us in libation, in frenzy
As David held up his hand, an effort at nonchalance, a priest officiating his own sacrifice

“Will you go with me?” he said
And the vulnerable way he said it, a question on so many levels, the last far more profound than the first

Someone, I swear, leapt into the air at the release when she said “yes”
The beast confronted, for all of us,
So that we were safe to pass into that reality that holds all atoms together
The universe, held by that one question

Love is always a release, a fledgling question hanging above a blacktop and the cries and screams of so much longing, and so much hope