Thursday, July 7, 2011

Two Old Wild Women, By the Fire

This wonderful painting, entitled Wild Woman was painted by London, England artist Hannah Simpson, who graciously allowed me to use it to illustrate this poem. This is the magic of the internet, that people over vast distances, can connect and share their talents. You will find a lot of interesting material, both art work and blogging, at Hannah's site: Hannah Simpson

As for the poem itself, the two italicized stanzas are the work of my friend, Elizabeth Crawford,
of Soul's Music. They sparked  this poem that I wrote in response. Thanks, Elizabeth. While I was writing, I felt like you and I were right in that cave, together, many lifetimes ago. I could see us! And hear the cackling:)

In long held legend,
two old women
are abandoned
separately in wilderness,
because of age, supposed
infirmity. They meet,
instead of death, they find
new life in one another.

An old wild woman
is set out
by her tribe
and moves off
into the forest,
knowing her time
is nigh.

Wandering afield
gathering wood
for her evening fire,
she comes across
another old woman
from a neighboring tribe,
carrying a rabbit
by its ears.

They stop,
they smile,
they grasp hands,
they sing some ululations
into the evening air
that are answered
by wolves high up
in the darkening hills.

They will keep
each other company
as they await
the end.

they form twigs
and branches
into an arching shelter,
burrowing deep
into the soft
bowl-shaped earth,
leaving an opening
through which they
can watch the sky.

One stirs the soup pot
with a carved wooden ladle.
One gathers the kindling
and sets it by.

After soup,
they begin singing
guttural chants
that never rise
above their throats.

As night draws in,
one woman splashes
water upon the
big heated stones
that ring the fire.

The other pinches tobacco
and sends it up to the gods
on the vapors
of the Old Ones’ breath.

Through the opening,
huddled in their shelter,
they watch the sky
turn midnight black.

The embers glow
as the fire dies down.

And the two
old women
find home,
extended life
and fulfilled purpose
in one another,
exchanging beliefs
of tribe
and tradition.


  1. Awww I always thought indigenous peoples took care of their elderly. This is sad but, ended on a happier note.
    I could almost smell the campfire smoke~!
    Lovely writing.

  2. Like all of it Sherry, the image and the mixture of our voices. We are the Wild Women, old yes, but oh so still alive and still able to speak our stories.


  3. This is wonderful1 I loved it. :-)


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