Unnoticed all summer at the back of the border
cohosh, bugbane, snakeroot, late bloomer:
a grandmother’s essence in a plume of cimicifuga.

She speaks of puerperal mania, uterine disorder 
a bald indifference to those who love her best
of the arms that would encage her, hatred
of corsetry, an insatiable desire to wander.


My othered grandmother is cut from the root 
of wild indigo. The essence of baptisia confusa
she’s mottled, besotted, impossible to follow.

She feels separated, can’t fit the pieces
of herself together, hears her limbs call out
to one another; suggestive of tubercular
taint, delirium tremens, death by septic fever.

About the Author

Bernadette McAloon is the recipient of a Basil Bunting Award and the Flambard Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in various magazines and anthologies including, Butcher’s Dog Magazine, Mslexia Magazine, The Rialto, and Land of Three Rivers anthology (Bloodaxe). Her debut pamphlet A Queen of Rare Mutations is published by Blueprint Poetry Press.