It was something in the combination of fire and drum. It pulled her down as though her pelvis needed to touch the earth, her legs buckled underneath and, in a half squat, she danced. The energy of the earth vibrated in her hips, a great throbbing through her bones. It felt almost as if her pelvis would shatter with the power of the earth: if she broke rhythm with the drum, surely it would. Her arms flailed above her wildly mimicking the movement of the flames, sometimes she brought them down hard to beat the ground. The drum held her, the heat of the fire held her. The earth held her. And so she danced and sweated and gasped and grunted, for that was the only possibility. It was she, the drum, the fire and the earth. Nothing else existed. Nothing else had ever existed. There were others there, she saw them not, it was only the brightness of the fire or the darkness and her inbetween, dancing. She was aware how wild she must look, how strange, how unhuman her actions. But there was no way to stop now.
She began to feel herself break. The drum was so loud, the fire so bright, the earth’s pull so strong that she gave way. Her body began to spread out as though she were a soda can beaten by a mallet. Thin, very thin, but hard so that her body rattled on the ground, still keeping time with the drum. She could feel herself still there in the body, in no pain, and with the same strength of feeling that she must still dance, that she must still touch the earth. It felt now that there were others and they were dancing on top of her. She felt not the weight of them, but their presence and it felt good, as though the extra pressure would bring her closer to the earth. The others were heavy and they danced hard and fast. Her body grew thinner and thinner, paper thin until it began to break apart. She let it go.
She stood in a wide land, the drum and fire gone, now there was only grey sky, wind and low yellow green hills. She felt something in her throat, stretching back her head further than she thought she could, she knelt on the ground. And reached her throat down to touch the earth. The pressure in her throat grew and she began to heave, huge racking spasms shook her and she opened her mouth. She sweated with the effort, the dry grass scratched her throat, the sides of her mouth ached and still she retched. Something was trying to come out. She felt her mouth fill with fur and with a convulsive push, a wolf left her. It scrambled to its feet, turned and looked at her then ran off towards the low yellow green hills. She lay there watching it. At peace. Her body, she knew, was of this place, she could feel it root into the earth, digging into the hard soil below the grass. She could sense new nourishment streaming in. Strange nourishment full of stories and song, dead bones and soft rain.