You Shall Feed Her by Amanda Wenisch

Hike to the back mountain.
There where the wild trilliums grow on the creek bank, steep.
They bloom through the dead leaves, white bursts of promise.
You will have to straddle the ground to steady yourself, squat low to get them. A snake may crawl about your ankles.
Braid the stems into your hair – dirty, curly, wild.
Save one bloom to press against your breast. Then pluck the petals one by one and blow them from your palm.
In the name of the Mother, the Daughter, and the Holy.
Pull off your dress and wade now into the creek, fat with last month’s snow.
Smile at the sun, and remember your mothers –
How they walked into rivers, hollows, caves, oceans
And spread their cracked-open bodies wide, poured forth milk, blood, tears.
Pull your daughter from your body now – she will cry, and you shall feed her.
Smooth-worn rocks will give way under you, spit you forth into a current that she will control.
See her now years ahead of you, in the bend of her own journey. See her look back at you and beyond you, her hair curly, wild. See her glisten among the trilliums.

Photo from Wiki Commons.

Extra Things

  • Throughout my childhood, my mom and I would make this excursion, out behind our house, over creeks to a spot where trilliums grew. They were never easy to get to, and I guess that was my mom instilling in me that lovely things are worth the journey.
  • Trilliums are native wildflowers that were traditionally used by native women to aid in childbirth and menstruation.
  • Susan Leopold’s article on protecting triliums briefly explains some folklore behind the plant but was eye-opening for me about our disconnect from protecting native plants. Consider reading it by clicking here.
  • This list of Ten Things to Know from “The Native Plant Herald” was so fascinating, but my favorite was definitely this traditional name: “Toadshade (for its resemblance to a toad-sized umbrella).” The image of a little toad using a trillium for an umbrella is nothing short of delightful! Read the rest here.

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