A Simple Thing by Juliette van der Moles

our hands talk without

needing words, nudging

and reaching, silently tapping

in understanding.

there are sounds as we work

side by side, the crackle snapping

as logs settle in the stone fireplace,

the steady breathing as i find a rhythm

to match the heartbeat slowed

from too much time in the village.

grandmother smooths open handwritten

lists, shaky scrawls thrown out in loop

lines, casting a net for cures, most

desperate and trapped in pain.

most of the secrets of the forest are

not meant to be secrets at all, they

are there for the willing and for those

who wish to see. but somehow beyond

the trees, underneath the bright cloudless

skies, people become blind.

my pestle grinds,

heavy in my hand,

i let it do the work,

turning dried leaves to powder,

crushing hard berry pebbles

to make them more suitable

for human consumption.

they say grandmother is magic,

but she says the world is magic,

i believe her. no secret incantations,

fanciful imaginings of villagers—

a simple thing

to commune with nature,

to let it speak

and let it be.

we fill and tie muslin, funnel tinctures into

glass of cobalt, emerald and amber.

once they are corked, nestled deep in

woven straw, grandmother speaks.

go with care,

she says as she ties my

red cloak closed, for i

am forever her child—

outside of the forest, beware.

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