Our forest isn't much for rattlesnakes,
or even copperheads, their patterned backs
red diamonds beneath last autumn's leaves.
It's small things here that get you: devil's thorn
raking bare flesh, deer ticks or Lenten rose,
and poison ivy clambers every patch
along the meadow's edge. I pull by hand
thin running stems wherever they invade,
careful to keep the leaftips from my skin.
This spring our rains have favored jewelweed
whose coral blossoms draw the rubythroats.
I leave a few to grow since their juice makes
a balm for poison ivy, which relieves
the subtle burning if applied within
a quarter hour. Knowing this, Baird planned,
at nine, immunity from more attacks
of blistering, and taking off his clothes
rubbed poison ivy everywhere. He'd made
a poultice, just in case, but could not match
the poison to its antidote. Forlorn,
confessed and bathed, at dinner he'd concede
unwisdom, but years later, he still notes
that even well-planned traumas test belief
but partial cures flourish near every grief.
If you've any comments on this poem, W.F.Lantry would be pleased to hear from you.