Madronna Holden


David Wolfersberger


medicine bow laramie mountains

Strawberry Medicine
(Medicine Bow, Wyoming)

Though you can paint the blush
of wildflowers on Medicine Bow
you can’t paint the taste
of wild strawberries in my mouth.

But pretend we are that ripe—
that ready for harvest—that our
tongues are prepared to receive
such sweet knowings from the earth.

That it is summer in the mountains
and things are coming to fruit
in the glass-clear air as the
mother of the strawberries
conjures the wind into
spreading her word.

Suppose I could place
one perfect strawberry in my mouth
with such complete relish
I forego two others

Though the mother of the strawberries
exacts no such vow from me
I harbor the assumption
this might do both myself
and the strawberry
some service.

Since if I swallow down a dozen berries,
not tasting a one, those strawberries
seem lost both to myself
and the world.

Isn’t our time on earth
like wild strawberries
we can consume
either way?

Dear strawberry, before
you are gone on to meaner things
teach me how to receive
everything (rather than
taking anything).

Medicine berry,
teach me when to drink
from desire’s sweet cup
and when to honor
its water with my eyes
(without touching—
without harming).

I am not fool enough
to imagine I could
defeat death with
such a story.

But then I also don’t know
how any of us, standing by
as our temples and bridges fall,
have managed to continue our stories
into other lifetimes.

I only know the land’s daily medicine
can keep us alive in this one:
just as the green of the leaves
is medicine for our breath,
the red of the strawberries
might heal our fever
for swallowing life
without tasting it.


bighorn (aka wind) river & mountains
wild cranes flying in pairs squawking like nobody’s bidness, swallows high-in-the-air acrobatics, strange duck species not seen in oregon. the cranes sound very like loons. kept up the crazy singing all night. nice


Our Earth-Bound Souls

I have visited our common kin—
stardust and miracle—
but only in keeping my eye
on our earth-bound souls
do I envision marvels.

The lush terrain
of the sweet ordinary
creates such longing
in the extraordinary
it desires to stay
as close as possible
to its beloved.

I cannot claim that
vision’s gift of emptiness
giving birth to creation
is any more blessed than
hearing the cranes of creation
talking over the night.

What more exalted teacher
than canyons opening up
from middle earth
to educate our eyes
to the wonder of seeing?

What greater mystery
in the hand of time
than a seed reaching
for life in whatever
way it can?

What more profound reminder
of the compassion
of the stars than
the muddy joy
of our bodies?

The empty plain of the universe
re-imagining itself
is an exquisite teacher—
and so is the green gamble
that brought us here.

I cannot number
the other planets
I would have to visit
to declare this one lacking—
where even the stone
we stumble over
bears the face
of our teacher.

Madronna Holden

Madronna’s practice is an earth-centered shamanistic one, with the spiritual goal of attending to the natural and ancestral worlds as sources of wisdom and healing in the service of developing compassion for other earthly lives and our own.

Madronna sees poetry as a means to access and expose the deep meaning of our lives and the living world around us. She is a folklorist and storyteller who has had the good fortune to work with and teach earth-centered traditions for several decades. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and the anthology, Dona Nobis Pacem, her essays in Parabola, and the community production of her play, The Descent of Inanna, was the subject of a documentary aired on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

More on Madronna Holden's work can be found on our Links page.


David Wolfersberger

Painting and David are summer friends, sometimes seen walking the land as they feel and remember it and want it to be again, before fences, where people live and care for the earth and each other. Spiritual practice? Sometimes David sits and meditates, and sometimes he just sits.

More on David Wolfersberger's work can be found on our Links page.