By Shavawn M. Berry HOLY FIRE

Off With Her Head: The Dangerous, Divine Feminine Responds

By Shavawn M. Berry

“She is so bright and glorious that you cannot look at her face or her garments for the splendor with which she shines. For she is terrible with the terror of the avenging lightning, and gentle with the goodness of the bright sun; and both her terror and her gentleness are incomprehensible to humans…. But she is with everyone and in everyone, and so beautiful is her secret that no person can know the sweetness with which she sustains people, and spares them in inscrutable mercy.” 

―Hildegard von Bingen’s vision of the Feminine Divine, from Scivias, III, 4.15, translated by Mother Columba Hart, O.S.B. and Jane Bishop

Vilified, gang-raped,
slaughtered, hung,
stripped, drowned, irradiated,
shot, acid-splashed
locked up, stoned,
beaten, strangled, infected,
impregnated, aborted,
abandoned, kicked,
run out of town,
molested, slashed,
marked, maimed, slammed,
terrorized, murdered, scarred,

A punchline
Emphasis on ‘punch’
Not line

chopped off her hands &
cut out her tongue to silence her

bound her feet
until they became tiny white mice
no good for running away

blackened her eyes,
broken her bones,
smacked her unconscious &
smeared her body on the side of the road

She rises
like copper sap, like a sockeye salmon returning to spawn,
like a field of sunflowers waving to passing cars

She emerges
Queen bee-Kali,
all serve her & the delicate hive mind
Soldiers march, feet sticky with her glow
The green fuse of clover honey
Born of each petal and tender leaf

She gives birth
She incubates, simmers, protects
the iridescent seahorse tucked inside a mermaid’s purse

she dares,
she opens her mouth
sings, whiskey-voiced, scented with rose water
sings lost hymns & lullabies & childhood nursery rhymes

She burns sandalwood, candles
& remembers her dead
marking her face with ashes

Witch, goddess, woman-child, crone
warrior-woman, snitch, whore, scribe, maiden, artist, writer, mother —

She spins trickster tales, fool stories, & her own particular color of moonlight
She brings on meteor showers & watches the sun slipping into sight again

Each day
She flies – like a murmuration of starlings –
Hair black, laced with silver
Face indigo

She comes to me
In the golden-gray of a running dream
shimmering and silent and full

Tell them, she says
Tell them I am in your bones,
your blood,
your soft tissue –
Tell them

they cannot
kill me.

Shavawn’s writing has appeared in Trickster Literary Journal, Poet Lore, Olentangy Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, The Huffington Post (Huffpo 50) and Living Buddhism, to name just a few.

For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends How to Love (Mindful Essentials).



Shavawn M. Berry

Shavawn M. Berry's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Trickster Literary Magazine, HuffPo 50, Be You Media Group, elephant journal, Journey of the Heart: Women's Spiritual Poetry, Olentangy Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Vagina - The Zine, Rebelle Society, The Cancer Poetry Project 2, Kinema Poetics, Kalliope, Poet Lore, Westview – A Journal of Western Oklahoma, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Concho River Review, North Atlantic Review, Synapse, Living Buddhism, Blue Mountain Arts/SPS, and Poetry Seattle. In 1998, she received her MPW in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where she specialized in Creative Nonfiction and Memoir. Ms. Berry teaches writing at Arizona State University. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter. You can read more of her writing on The Wonderland Files, or via her website.

  1. tiziana perricone

    I Go.

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