Down the staircase which leads deeper
into a preserving place,
herbs in tinted bottles glow.
Peppermint, fennel, and rue
float in the amber oils
of caster, linseed, and olive,
waiting to perform a miracle
at the snap of a bean.
Some might call it common
the way she set the bottles
on a white table cloth
beside the pressed square of butter;
the way she went out after a rain
when the earth was more givable;
the way she made the oils by the phase of the moon.
Along the path from the cellar to the creek,
there are memories but no ghosts.
March lambs browse raspberry leaves.
Their sharp-toed hooves trample the thistle,
mullein and sorrel-- the only plants she hated.
Weaned lambs placidly nibble the weeds
that flavored their mother's milk.
Hummingbirds in the foxgloves
will sing of the taste all season;
and gooseberry-eyed, nursing calves
will chew a real cud
or the charming memory of one.
Deborah Quigley Smith has published poems in Melic Review, Long Pond Review, Sequoya Review, and Poetry Miscellany, as well as other print and online journals. She has an English degree from Harding University and currently lives with her husband in Quigley's Castle, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In addition to poetry, Debbie writes international thrillers, one of which was recently selected as a semi-finalist for a national prize. She volunteers in the Community Writing Program, mentoring students on plot and character.