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Miriam Bird Greenberg

Tip up an axe blade beneath the bed slats
to stop the hemorrhaging, I’ll say.

Take cloth scorched brown in a shovel
over flame to tie the cut cord.

Boil up black snake root tea to cure
your hives. Take a mouse’s ear; it grows

on rocks at the water’s edge. Red
alder works around the heart,

but some nights the moon turns dark
as a stone under water—there’s nothing

to do, though I’ll send the children all evening
in search of pepper grass

if there’s a marsh nearby. Pray
if your god pays you mind, I’ll tell the woman.

Nothing can change those nights,
down the mountain’s dark path—just a twist of tobacco

left in my pockets. Small black bag
and silver scissors, taken oath

to tell no one: a thing like that would
skip to tenth generations. Bound

to come from some mineral
and settle on vegetables with the dew.

At home, I’ll wash out my bag, my mortar
and pestle and tools, then leave them a day

in the sun to get clean.

Miriam Bird Greenberg

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