Once upon a time she wore sheer veils and her gown tore as she raced through a garden of thorns. The dried blossoms fell as she passed, the ripening fruit stained her scratches.
Once upon a time she covered herself from head to toe, and lay against the sands, only her eyes visible, looking up through air thin and sharp at a night thick with stars.
The dark was not stitched with straight lines, a silvery web of dot-to-dot, but painted with shadow and scent and the whispers of snakes, sculpted with a nuance as rounded as the dunes and sanded smooth with echoes of a far away hunger.
Once she wore a hat of leaves and dreams, taller than a bishop’s mitre. Once she wore a dress of galaxies, having drawn across her body a map to the universe.
Once she stood at the door as it opened, and it opened to a room she’d never seen before; it opened to a crowd of men who stared at her, and she refused to meet their eyes.
Once upon a time the moon shone full, and she watched it move across the sky, blurring the nearest stars, as if it was a cherubim of a thousand eyes with wings that shiver in the air.
Once upon a time she watched all the moons of all the planets rise, and set, and rise again, some swift, some slow. All were beautiful.
Once she measured wires and atoms, and embroidered them into the edges of the story she saw coming. She carefully wrote down the dust of the electric in her ledger, noting the way the light spilled and the shadow spread.
Once she walked barefoot for miles, and danced in whatever mud she found along the way. If she fell, she painted her bruises with more mud.
Once upon a time she wrapped herself in a shawl, and wrapped rags around her feet to catch the blood that ran down her legs.
Once she tied on an apron, stood over the heat, and stirred together apricots and onions, nuts and rice, orange blossoms and cinnamon and salt. Once she lay against pillows with her eyes closed, waiting for the plate that was coming.
Once she stood at the door as it opened, and it opened to a crowd of men who stared at her, and she stared back, until they looked away.
Once she counted the eyes of the animals before her — the bear, the wolf, the lion, the bull. Once upon a time she stood at the rail of the ship, drenched with mist as the whale breached and bowed. She bowed back.
Once upon a time she floated in the clouds of light that stretch from star to star, enormous and unseen.
Once upon a time wine glasses chimed and laughter shattered as she guided her guests through the crowded room. She was so quiet they had to bend close to hear her.
Once she wore a kippah the color of myrtle blossoms and wide-legged pants of shimmering silk. Her hips curved, her waist sloped, her arms raised and held up the wind. Her arms lowered and circled her love.
Once upon a time, the animals gathered around her, and she stroked their soft fur, their silken scales, their warm and shivering feathers.
Once someone tried to hold her and she flinched. Once someone tried to hold her and she sighed. Once she was asked what she says to the morning and the evening. Shhh, she answered, listen, listen.