A Lodge of Broken Bark

The sky was pale with morning.
A cabin stood like a wand of hyssop
just at the edge of the wood.
The logs were weathered in places
and covered with moss.
There was a table and bench
for eating outdoors, and a finely
strung fishnet for drying herbs and nettles.
The medicine woman
was collecting wild botanicals in a basket
outside the door to the garden.
I walked through the woods,
one foot in front of the other,
wondering how I had come
so unexpectedly to the Xa:ytem Longhouse,
and expecting to see Raven again.
I thought that perhaps restoring
health began with doing something
different than one had done all along.
I was hoping to find a medicine
among the First Nations that had been
passed down for generations.

II.
When the medicine woman was finished,
she sat down at the balsam-scented outdoor table.
She took a notebook and pen out of her dress pocket,
and with a scarf, tied her shining dark hair
up once more.
She scratched on the paper. The black pen
left clean marks as she made her notes
of the pharmacopeia of the four medicines.
She did this each day.
Then she rose and retreated
back into the cabin.
I arrived at the reserve through the wood on foot,
and my presence was announced.
Raven came quickly to greet me.
“Sea!” she said, overlooking over my
long fitted crepe skirt, garments
of a florist-in-training. I had a bundle
of freesia and Queen Anne’s Lace.
She smiled, and I could see
our friendship had evolved from
just an idea to an entity
of color and emotion.

Emily Isaacson c.2015 Tate Publishing.

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