Wild Medicine by Jennifer Cayer



Gigi picks up speed as we wander into the woods. I could listen to the self-named “ditch witch,” medicine woman, and Herbalist Without Borders say lobelia, damiana and comfrey all day. She’s about sixty years-old, violet tunic over leggings. A presumably powerful green stone hangs on a cord over her heart.

“Ah, a fringe!” she bubbles.

She’s asked us to bring comfortable hiking shoes for the plant-identification part of the wild medicine course, but she wears only black flip-flops between her cracked heels and the forest floor. “See,” she points to a distinctively taller area of growth along a field. “A lot of action happens here— borders are plant life’s El Paso’s, Juarez.” And where so-called native and invasive species intertwine, Gigi finds the best medicines….

Jennifer Cayer teaches at New York University where she received a Ph.D. in comparative literature. Read “Wild Medicine”…>

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Public domain photo by Icetsarina via flickr.

My child does not sleep, so I go walking with the bones of the dead. The stroller wheels click along the path, trees frame panes of light across the rows. The plots, green and even, are misnamed, trading stories for simple verse, for peace.

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Lazy Hound Dog by Meaghan via Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Blue. The smell of bread turning to toast came in the open window and my bloodhound began to salivate. He took a turn by the door, fixing his eyes on me. When I bend down to tie my laces a searing pain in a lower disc ensures I straighten up slow, too slow for the […]

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