by Heidi Hart
In the gutter, maple keys, dried elm pods,
human hair, a shredded document
I gather with my bare hands, stuff into
a plastic bag and carry home. I twist it all
into a tall clear bottle that held spring water
from Norway, empty for a year. Long hair
catches on my thumbnail. I turn over
one thread of the paper with its font too small
to read, even if I could sew back its words.
An elm pod cracks and spills its seed. I fill
my cryptic and useless prescription,
knowing that the world’s hungry
for healing, not knowing what crushed herb
or tincture it can take. All I have is this,
a cylinder of silenced words and seeds that
will not grow, sloughed human cells,
bacteria that bloom invisibly in summer heat.
I add a sprig of fresh thyme.
Steam is rising in the glass.
Heidi Hart holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her published work includes the memoir Grace Notes: The Waking of a Woman’s Voice (University of Utah Press, 2004) and the four-poet collection Edge by Edge (Toadlily Press, 2007). She is a singer and voice teacher who also teaches creative writing at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.