Ritual for a Gardener

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Ritual for a Gardener poem by Darlene Witte

I planted a garden to share.
Trust and hope, and herbs, I placed there.
The herbs flourished.

And just when the herbs were pungent and their healing notes
were ripe, my friend withdrew.
Closed the gate. Stepped outside.
Closed her heart.

Here is what to do, should this ever happen to you:
Choose small white stones,
one for each sorrow.
Rest the stones together in an iridescent shell,
place a candle within. Light it.
You will need to burn Coriander
for the joy of the garden and the gardener.
Take care of that first.

Then, sprinkle the Coriander within the circle of stones, four seeds or more.
Leaves of Lavender, you’ll need that for love and happiness.
Lavender, also for peace. Pile it up.

Add some Clary Sage to push misunderstanding in the right direction,
transformed, carried upward by the candlefed flame.
Let the smoke of the Coriander, Sage and Lavender, be released
on behalf of she who has hurt herself by her own fear.

And you might add a bit more Clary Sage,
this for clear seeing, for rising above. For taking the long view.

The ritual is balm, and patterned pain can be moved forward,
sent out beyond the bleeding of the heart on rising breath.

By ritual, trouble may become one with living flame, and burnt, released:
We are shown by the smoke how to reach upward, to transcend.

Oh, and remember, let the candle be of beeswax, for the bees know,
better than we, how to dance our way home.

I stand my ground. Alone here.

I name my own heart, myself.

I am who I am.

My sadness will soon, tomorrow, or even later today, perhaps,
be something more than it was yesterday.
My garden will continue to grow. Ripen.
Singing will be heard from within the garden gate. And dancing too.
My steps will flow surely as I dance, for strapped to my feet
And easing my way, are the beeswax, the candle flame,
the Lavender, the Coriander, and the Clary Sage.

Light, smoke, and sensibility.
Sentience of stone and herb.

Each revealing new steps in the soul’s journey.

How many days must the gardener perform this ritual?
Until the ashes of sweet herbs cover the stones.
Until the work is done.
Until lilies have grown up wild, beside the herbs,
and together they have bound themselves over the wounds.

Darlene Witte
Darlene Witte

Professor of Education, (retired) at Johnson State College in Vermont leads the Green Mountain Writers' Poetry & Performance workshop that meets on Zoom each month on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays at 7 PM ET. Find out more at https://www.meetup.com/green-mountain-writers

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