The Prayer Dancer
I once hiked a trail no longer printed on maps to a ridge
where dead trees sparred against the sky. Rock outcrop
stretched below for as far as I could see. This was a land
four hundred million years in the making, but suggesting
a metaphor of apocalypse, or perhaps a Sinai of the soul.
Boulders covered gullies like rubble tossed from a blast.
Scrub pine and lichen were flash-baked black and white.
I could discern only negative silhouettes of living things.
Then I spied a blaze of cerise. It was a young woman in
a prayer dress, her brown arms extended toward the sun.
She turned east and then west, pulling light rays inward,
sealing them to her chest with closed fists. She gleamed.
I felt like a mortal trespassing on the sacred. For I knew
out of such brief sightings, whole faiths may be founded:
Our Lady of the Rock. Fatima: I hope, I believe, I adore.
Sister Sun, save this troubled world. Om ravaye namaha.
The prayer dancer now grew conscious of my presence.
She raised a veil to her face, which I never did glimpse.
She did not break her rhythm, breathing in and out easily,
remaining connected to something much larger than me.