Rites of Passage

Female friendships that work are relationships in which women help each other to belong to themselves.
Louise Bernikow
Drawing the circle tonight in an ancient ritual
the sharing of food and wine
this coven of females that fit one another
the way soft old jeans cradle our curves.
Mad as maenads
wild-haired women who, when we laugh
throw back our heads and roar
above the hum of the crowd like lionesses.
Fierce pride, this tribe: boundless affection
smiles full of teeth and words
shouting advice, swapping insults.

Our edges are sharp. When we collide we cut and bruise,
we bleed. People look at us and say
we are crazy, and they are not wrong:
we build up heads of steam, eyes lit up like Mars.
But post-collision we embrace
we soothe and murmur, chuckle and weep.
Our talk turns soft as summer wine
and we give it generously: this love
that absolves, accepts, forgives, moves on.

We know what all smart women know:
friendship among lionesses
is careful ground.
Inside us these ferocious hearts
that beat
and beat
and beat us to pieces
until we do what they demand.
And they demand this: you will love your sisters
like it or not
you will learn the lessons your tribe has to teach
you will hit your lows and reach your heights
to love and be loved every step of that journey:
This is how you become a woman.

KB © 7/9/14


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