took herself out one day,
to the woods she’d been foraging in
for years, went out among the may-apples,
colts foot, burdock, lamb’s quarter,
plants she read , nature’s literature,
expanding her life beyond itself,
nurturing woods, medicinal woods –
learning all its secrets, riding the steady
wheel of the seasons, its comings and goings,
the small predictable bounties.
Woods she’d come to, after quitting nursing,
collecting for teas, elixirs, and tinctures,
taking other peoples’ children
on wild foods walks, collecting
watercress, nettles, ramps,
and in the spring, morels, their tiny
convoluted skulls peeping out among the roots.
I can hear her low voice, its sibilant consonants
and vowel melodies filling the afternoon shade
with the riches all around us, opening our eyes.
Herbalist, house wren,
small, watchful, and full of knowledge,
went out to the woods alone
one day, not long after her divorce,
stood at the edge of the deepest
rock ravine, and threw herself down.
Who knows how long she lay there,
awake and aware, as the raptors
went sliding overhead, how many
nights she watched them turn into stars?
Those of us who saw her
for the hero she was trying so hard to be,
hope new shoots feathered up
around her, unfurling a green caress,
that little birds gathered above her,
to sing her their sweetest songs.