Hear the author read this poem
White pipe cleaners, chalky flags in wind,
sprang up unplanted at the wood’s edge,
near rocks and icy moss, oddly in November,
whose days thirst for light. What an unpromising start,
conceived last summer in the droppings of a bird
that fueled at my feeder for the long flight.
Even its English names— black cohosh,
snakeroot— sound as though someone
didn’t want it.
Is this what death is like, hope before darkness,
or is it waking? On this land once,
a dying woman of the Montauk people
ground star-white flowers into a paste mixed with rainwater
and drank to her recovery.
Cimicifuga racemosa, windsocks riding air
after roses are ash, your name a rainbow of vowels
that sing of light, glimmer in bone-dry woods,
blaze in our winter night,