Bitter Root Rituals

Barbara Mor


white woman enter

the councils of the rock


she is dressed in the skin

of her people


to the elders of the rock

she speaks     saying

our tree is white    with

dying roots

I have just eaten

a bitter root

the young men of the rock

draw their knives


she gives them her body

a dry tree


and in the dream    the tree

grows white

with death


and the year     opens

to the silent knife

and the thighs     open

to the ancient knife

and the earth


in the hand of lovers



and they strip her

the dead leaves

fly to the wind

they say

you are our mother

our great eagle

they snap the dry branches

bone by bone


our cow

our whore

tree of life

and with the knives

they slice

her skin from her nerves

her arms from the sky

her voice from the echo

and they say

for us you fly

we suck you dry

sweet is the milk

of the mother tree

and they stand above her singing

their tongues are knives

for us you die

we die in you

and laughing they slit

the roots of her feet

and she laughs

and cries



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