[Hi folks: for your Tuesday enjoyment, a poem by Eberle. She composed this as part of the prologue to an upcoming production of the Second Shepherds’ Play, for which she’s also composing the music. The Forest Woman is based on a character in the movie Sorceress (Le moine et la sorcière).]
The Forest Woman’s Monologue
Soon the nights will be warmer
and soon the owls will leave this valley.
They always leave when the Moon
is in her waning and the Eldertree in flower.
That’s when I must be ready to pick the elderflowers
For they won’t wait.
When the owls leave and the nights are warmer
That’s when the fever comes to the valley
And when it leaves we are fewer,
there are always mothers mourning the hollow place
within their arms where a child once slept.
I must be ready to pick the elderflowers
when they froth open in the moonlight of her waning
when the dew falls warm and heavy
I’ll fill my cauldron to the brim with their whitening blooms
For they save lives.
The priest looks at me sideways when I pass his door at night
on my way to the grove of the Eldertree – such a tree!
Her arms hold generations of us
in the moonlit hollows where her branches curve,
and in the dark where her roots cradle the earth
moistening among the worms and beetles.
The priest lets me go about my work because he has seen
the flower potion heal, and because he too grieves
When children die.
The priest has asked me how
I can have converse with the Eldertree -
for he has no mother and children with him
through the night and so his nights are occupied
with fears of demons and their many forms
leaping and prancing in the moonlight.
He asks me how the tree appears to me,
do I hear voices, he asks, how do I know
the meaning of the tree?
I point to the little black marks
in the sacred book he carries and ask how these
speak to him – does he hear voices? Do they take form?
How does he know their meaning?
He holds the book up, but doesn’t offer it to me,
he says: “This is the Word of God.”
I tell him that the tree is also the Word of God -
how else would the healing flowers bloom
just when the nights grow warmer and the owls
leave the valley, just when the warm dews
settle on the ponds and the fever comes?
But I don’t have time to tell him more,
the Moon is in her waning and the tiny pale fists
of the elderflowers open to her, one by one.
I must go now, to the grove and pick them
For they won’t wait.