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The Fragrance of Herbs

By Ruth Calder Murphy (Arciemme)

Image from: www.behgopa.com

Her hands like leather, she swings the ancient swingle,

cleaning the wood from the flax of her soul -

and by her conscientious paring, she makes herself whole.

Making ready, she is, to sail the eternal sea -

her body and spirit in a lifelong duologue,

keeping it going in the face of their parting -

sitting in the shade of an existential tree.


A sheaf of herbs, fragrant as seasons,

is packed in her knapsack, waiting for the word -

mingling with spices; cinnamon and cardamom,

sandalwood, cassia, frankincense and myrrh.


A metaphysical cartographer is sitting by her side,

finishing a chart of the deep and wide,

and she wonders, is it wadeable, the river she must cross?

Will there be a boat to take her to the other side?


One thing only, eschatological, is indisputable;

no-one questions this: The apodictic ending...

And the resurrection myth?

Her spirit whispers to her that yes, there’s more than this;

more than the material, more than she can see,

more than this humanity, and soon, she will be free…


She lays down her swingle - her soul is smooth and clean -

and straightens up to stand again.

She shoulders her knapsack, steps beyond the veil

to finally set sail...


Around her empty body, the scent of summer rain

and the fragrance of herbs, remain.

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