A Stand of Spirits

(The story is told about women in Kenya who roped themselves to the trees sacred to their tribe to prevent the rubber companies' loggers from cutting them down. Often the husbands of the women were among those hired for the clear cutting. )

I hear the rough rasp of your axe
as you grind and sharpen in the night.
The blade licks itself to a thin edge,
groaning low in preparation.

My husband, you act as if you have no family,
no one left on whom to bring shame.
Have you forgotten that in this stand each trunk
is the knotted spine of a grandfather, each leaf
the cool cheek of a grandmother?

My hands taste the rough rasp of thick hemp
as I draw close the rope's long loop.
I coil it tight under the swell of my belly,
loving its touch, preparing for its hard hold on me
between you, my husband, and the sharp purpose of your blade.

Rose Marie Berger is associate editor of Sojourners.

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