The Mad Farmer’s Wife Learns of Forest Bathing

She would have loved a creek bath but didn’t dare,
only chuckled at the saucy thought.
That wasn’t what the term meant anyway.
In Japan it’s called shinrin yoku
her daughter said, forest bathing,
where you go to the woods to renew
to soothe, to relax, to change on the inside.

Country people had always just called it walking.

Striking out across uneven ground
the fat trees welcome us, whispering
a breathless hello.
Our feet drink from the heavy dew
wash the soul clean,
breezes erasing the world
and its cash out of our eyes.
Branches clap their approval—take a bow.

We pulse along, a kind of wind ourselves,
stop under a red maple veil
in a wedding tent of sleepy poplars,
xylem and cambium rooting us
to a wildness of spirit
as the rooted ones wave us on.

Rita Sims Quillen’s latest poetry collection, The Mad Farmer’s Wife, is forthcoming in fall 2016 from Texas Review Press. Quillen is the author of the novel Hiding Ezra, the chapbook Something Solid To Anchor To, the poetry collections Her Secret Dream, October Dusk, and Counting the Sums, and an essay collection Looking for Native Ground: Contemporary Appalachian Poetry. She lives and farms on Early Autumn Farm in Scott County, Virginia.

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