Widow’s Weeds

By Courtney Huse Wika

No one forages here
in the tall grasses and unkempt briars,
except the hollow-boned crows
and me, in widow’s weeds,
dirty nails and knees.

On lunar nights I plant wolfsbane as a ward,
castor beans for joints rusted as hinges,
belladonna for fever,
oleander for the dreams I had of carrying children,
and nightshade as pernicious as my blood.

On the darkest nights, I slip from bed
to pull the snakeroot
by handfuls before it can strike
my lover’s garden,
the one with tenacious vines of honeysuckle,
sun-faced lilies, and sage.

And in the mornings, I swallow pills
like hemlock,
perennial poisons,

and hope they kill
the right part of me.


Courtney Huse Wika is a 2021 James Hearst Poetry Prize finalist and New Millennium Writing Awards notable mention. Her work has appeared in North American Review, The Halcyon, Midwestern Gothic, and South Dakota in Poems. She is the author of Perch, a chapbook of nature poetry, and teaches at Black Hills State University.

Originally appeared in NOR 29

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