The Ritual

The Ritual
Alex Harper

Though your instinct is to start
with poetry and dancing

before that teach me, please,
how to close the ritual down,
and then explain the link between
phonetics and the senses.

I need grounding:
draw for me the underlying
scaffolding of bones
before we get to skin,

do not begin a story with anything
but once upon a time,
and never chant
the words that let the light and darkness in.

At my worst I could insist
we learn first-aid procedures first,
write risk assessments and our plans
for unforeseen emergencies,

but I’ve got to shake this need
for safety, and anxiety has been in charge
too long, and most of all
I want to see what happens,

so go on: start with poetry and dancing
if that’s how magic starts.



Alex Harper’s poetry has appeared in Mirror DanceNot One of Us, Kaleidotrope, and The Interpreter’s House, among others. His poem “The Hero’s Journey” appeared in issue 4 of Liminality, and “Faith” in issue 7. He lives in England, and can be found online at and on Twitter as @harpertext.