In the Women’s Dhikr Today

In the women’s dhikr today
there were
birds circling overhead
darting between us as we sat
huddled in animal skins
then voices struck up the rhythm
footbeats
baby’s feet stretching out and sliding
happily against my viscera
voices taking different paths at first
through the woods but soon
finding a well-worn track
low ones close to the ground
listening for approaching presences
high ones soaring to get a better view

Now the footbeats fall faster as
lights are seen from a clearing ahead
a shaker starts up
– that was the shopping earlier
the frisson of excitement at two for one
washing powder –
and a lolloping, skipping drumbeat
– this was the trundle of a car with
a rattly exhaust and water in the fan –
the la ilaha ill’Allah is the water in our
cells, my uterus, the bottle in the
centre of the circle
moving in imperceptible waves
new notes falling in
bright circles of coloured paper
lit from behind, overlapping

The hadra starts
slowly, first mere breaths
Hayy, Hayy, Living, Living
my eyes shut, unborn baby’s
perhaps open and intrigued
seeing the words in my
membranes and singing
with water for its air
feet warming up at last

Now we stand
the togetherness surges
one baby falls asleep
another wakes up and mews for milk
a Hayy runs through our linked
hand circuit, undulating
as each woman takes her rhythm
bouncing
swinging almost
shivering with delight
the ones caught in between
dancing wonky
the birds are punching holes
in the forest canopy now
we are panting because we run
feet levitating
legs still working
coloured circles falling
snow-like
on the threshold of the clearing
welcoming us to the garden
and the Gardener’s there

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