The Primavera National Forest in Mexico isn’t far from Guadalajara. It’s been a sacred place to the people who lived there long past, and they still honor their roots. Thankfully, the area has been preserved as a National Forest. Rio Caliente wanders through, hot steam rising, and it’s wonderful to soak in her waters, once they are cool enough to enter. Black obsidian rock covers hills here and there. like a coating of thick pudding that has hardened, with the ripples still evident. When I’ve walked up the hillsides I’ve picked up pieces that are just below a thin layer of dusty soil. It’s a place I stumbled into, guided by a small article in National Geographic magazine years ago, fortunately, as I’ve done some healing there, as have others. Next, to a bend in the river, there is a convent that many women traveled to as their last hope. Many had cancer, according to the Mother Superior, a tiny, fierce force of nature. She followed the church precepts she gathered herbs on the hillsides for healing and treated women with the herbs, vegetables they grew, and with the hot river water baths. She also practiced iridology to decide how to treat her patients. I would have stayed with her to help, had I spoken Spanish well enough. She asked mi hija, my daughter, to stay, and she helped to translate one afternoon. This poem is in memory of her and all the people of the convent. A portion of my heart remains there. This poem is in memory of her and all the people of the convent.
Convent in Primavera Mexico
She examines the eyes
to make her prognosis,
assesses the whole person
makes her pronouncement.
Todavia esta toxica—everything is toxic.
She bundles three packages,
labels written in her hand,
herbs gathered on hillside and forest.
She knows I won’t stay here.
I know behind adobe doors there
are women who have traveled far,
all of Mexico and the Southwest.
The convent fills with grace and prayer.
She nourishes from her garden, and
prepares herbs gathered in the hill.
This wise old abbess
of fire, earth, air, and water
the beginning and end for so many.