Issue No. 3, Winter 2012

It Always Comes Back to Ritual
Angela Maria Williams

Wrap myself in the Navajo rug of red,
black zigzags from our old living room.
Eternally seven, I balance on a wood

beam in the chicken coop. I do not fear
rattlesnakes, even after my father’s gift,
its length uncoiled and head smashed,

on the porch. He paints the landscape,
ten-acres long, a smudged darkness
over pine trees. Barefoot in the dirt

driveway, pass a tarantula, until I run
into the fogged side of this desert snow
globe. My younger brother blinks in,

a child to my child, then he is sixteen
and gone. Winter each time. A brutal
wind sweeps down the Sandias. My

brother turns to an arrowhead sharp in
my palm. Plead to the old gods, a chant
beneath the blanket. No one taught me

about Spider Woman, from whose
thoughts all things sprung. First, I must
shake loose the saints with snake faces

but stumble on alien words, panic. Time
unravels from my fingers as the storm
breaks. Rain batters ground, turns each

empty arroyo and creek into the thunder
of a river. The water drags down the last
piece, incantation dead on my lips as I wake.

Angela Maria Williams is an indie bookseller, most recently at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. She studied poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and other equally useful subjects (namely the breakfast burrito) at the University of New Mexico. Her work has appeared in Fickle Muses, Contemporary American Voices, Sage Trail and Conceptions Southwest.