The art of burning sage.

An opaque spiral twists and turns, a pushing wild dance up and through air. It is smoke rising and it is beautiful and bare, and the burning herb is white sage—all bundled with thin twine.

The sage is a gift from my cousin. “Do you want one?” she asked me, late last night. “Here, take one with you for the road,” she said.

So, I did.

“Thank you,” I said, eyes smiling.

. . .

I spooned a bowl of tofu curry into my mouth and washed it down with homemade brews as we sat on the porch of her college apartment, last night. She cooked for me—a meal to welcome me in from my long drive. We laughed into the cool, misty air of the blue-ridged mountains, snickering about fall weather and boys and how to fall in love. It was midnight by the time we finished spinning our words thick like smoke—unraveling confessions about our cultural heritages, memories of our pasts, thoughts on our presents, and dreams for our futures.

“I am beautiful and smart,” she said, as we talked about our worth as mixed women with mysterious features. “I can write and that can be enough,” I said, as we talked about the confidence it takes to validate our gifts and passions.

We talked about southern etiquette and travels abroad—our desire to live off the land and our shared nerdy habits. We talked about roots and family bloodlines and the guts it takes to move away from home. We talked about writing, we talking about children, we talk about God, we talked about pain.

We burned like flames hot on dry leaves, sending up smoke signals of our own. We filled the air, deep and wide, with our own curly mists—the soft whisperings of strong stories, burning through the night with our hearts so close, we could feel each other’s warmth.

That is art—making conversation rise, like smoke pushing through the air with an inescapable thicknesses of “I am here.” Words lingering and leaving a softness, a fragrance in the air.

One soothing, and yet strong.