By Laura Theis
Sometimes at my most invisible and flattened
an image comes and visits me:
I see a warrior queen on a white antlered colt
riding towards me. Her face is fierceness itself
as if, unlike mine, it had never composed itself into
a smile meant to placate someone in a position of power.
Her shawl trails the emerald light
of northern deep-winter skies.
Her breasts armour-plated as if
they belong to her only.
Her hair carries ice winds as harsh as a fact that
should not have been ignored in the first place.
As she looms closer I am tempted to kneel
but this is not what she wants me to do.
She wants me standing tall as she puts me into her palm, lifts me
straight to her geyser-grey eyes. She looks at me in silence
before she speaks with a voice of burning mountains,
a lava flow levelling whatever it meets.
Mortal woman she says
if you wish to pray to me pray
by balling your hands into fists. Pray by knowing your strength
and by roaring your name in a storm.
Pray by holding your head high and saying your truth
that ice is not ice if it’s magma, you hear?
You would do well to remember your place,
which is never down on the floor.
She leaves me then, taller than I was, un-hunched.
One of these days I am hoping to visit her island,
to learn how to howl on her black beaches, her lava fields,
over the crash of her waterfalls. To dance on her streams like Hófvarpnir,
to climb her volcanoes and howl my prayer of thanks to the goddess
that visits me sometimes to let me know
I deserve to stand up.
About Laura Theis
Laura Theis is the winner of the 2018 Hammond House International Literary Award for Poetry and the 2017 AM Heath Prize. Having grown up in Germany and writing in her second language, she has gained a Distinction in the Mst Creative Writing at Oxford University and her work has been published and/or broadcast in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, and the U.S. Her poetry appears in many different places such as Strange Horizons, The London Reader, and Rise Up Review, as well as in anthologies from Three Drops Press, Hammond House and the Live Canon International Poetry Award Anthology 2018 and 2019. She invites you to visit her website for more information about her and her writing: http://lauratheis.weebly.com/