Willow – Patricia Nelson

The Celts considered willow groves magical and associated the willow with water, healing, inspiration and the granting of wishes. They tied a willow limb in a knot when making a wish.

This is the grove for wishing:
river’s whispering sill,
joint of root and water,
green that shines and breathes.

White mist slurs the lost
men who rest on knee and heel,
faces winged with paints,
each man with a knot of words.

In wild, pliant verbs, they speak the edge.
Faces, downward in the air,
upward on the water,
join the elements that twist and whisper.

Among the edges loosening their heels
and water’s legless, drifting animals,
go the headlong men who wish,
abandoned to the small and several things that sting.

They go far, go fast,
bend like water at the steep stone,
fold their known and disappearing sky
and may outlast the dry and footed men.

Patricia Nelson is an attorney who works with the “Activist” poets in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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