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Nature Cure by Cora Greenhill

Neglect your child. Set her free to find home
in bogs brash with marigolds, cuckoo flowers,
harebells in heather.

She’ll dawdle the braes peeling rushes,
find green valleys tender,
dream alone by a loch on Bin Mountain.

Lay no tables. She’ll know
to slip a hand under the maran’s downy breast
for warm eggs; learn to make fire,

build shelters in hollows of bracken
– she’d rather watch fine rain fall
than feel the cold stove.

Or she’ll slink to cottages
where embers wink
under black-bellied pots of purties:

a sprinkle of salt, a cup of blue milk
with a wrinkle of cream from the churn.
A curl of new kittens to hold.

She’ll mount an old donkey with fostered boys
split skin in a fall, let them laugh,
spit on grazed hands.

When navy serge stiffens with first blood
she’ll know the stale smell of herself – her shame
and knuckles blistered scrubbing stains.

But alone she’ll find her own wild cries,
hidden in hay bales and on branches rising
to open skies. She never was yours.

She’ll hitch-hike to Istanbul
sleep under new arrangements of stars
with the half moon lying back.

She’ll not know where a day
will put her down, may learn to trust
the mysterious kindness of strangers.