the hut at the edge of the wood

It’s good for business,
these festivals and tourneys.
Common folk walk for miles to see the spectacle
and for the free bread.
Noble lords and ladies in their coaches and on fine steeds
bring servants, maids and lackeys to cater their every need.
So yes, it’s good for business-
maids and menfolk will find their way past the silken tents
and the colorful flags
through the village past cobbler and baker,
past cooper and blacksmith to the edge of the village
to the door of my hut at the edge of the wood.

The lords will send pages, some not eight or nine,
still wide eyed at the stories of witches and magic.
They will slip a thin coin in my palm
for a poultice of calendula and savory for the bruise
from the hard fall in the jousting field
or a bit of willow bark to chew to ease the pain in their joints.
Older grooms might draw up the courage
to ask for a little magic of their own-
an elixir of love or clove for a toothache.
At times the nobles find their way alone, to ask for charms of luck
to best their rival
or agrimony and Fornet’s palm boiled in ewe’s milk
to stiffen their resolve, so to speak.

But the women, they come for deeper magic.
The ladies with their maids or the scullery girl after the moonrise
with bits of silken ribbon to barter, or a sharp silver needle,
a link of gold chain or a tiny pearl,
sometimes a marrow bone or loaf of fine bread-
things women can trade without suspicion.
Some need to stay young, some need an easy birth,
some need to still an uneasy spirit with draughts of lavender
and foxglove.
Young maids will shyly request tinctures of belladonna
to brighten their eyes or goatsbeard so as to not be with child.
Married ladies will ask for charms to bear healthy sons, decoction of chasteberry
to supply their milk and blessed thistle to ward off the plague.
Older women will need tinctures of valerian to sleep, dandelion to quieten their spleen
or ferrugreek as they move into their croning.

Yes, its good for business, these weeks of tourney.
And the path to my door will see many a soul-
maid and page, lady and lord-
they will all find their way
to the little hut at the edge of the wood.

*** A little fantasy for D’verse as all the lords and ladies attend the medieval tournament this week.

14 thoughts on “the hut at the edge of the wood

  1. Oh, I did so enjoy this! What a trip back in time. All the tales to be told and the things women can trade – most important point you made there. This was just a wonderful poem in response to the prompt. Well done!

  2. I so enjoyed this Kathleen ~ The details, the potions & charms, the busy festival is teeming with business ~ I would have thought you are very knowledgeable about the medieval times ~

  3. oh nice.. that is a completely different perspective… the medicine woman…i do hope that many people find their way to her little hut and get their bruises of whatever kind treated..

  4. You have really created a wonderful atmosphere in this poem. I like all of the details you have included. You seem very, VERY knowledgeable about the Middle Ages.

  5. ha. i enjoyed the trip to the medieval tourney…esp the perspective…and the contrast you create as well in those that come for mere charms…and then the ladies that slip in during the night…and i think to me it seems the main difference is the need behind their requests…of a more specific and real nature…

  6. Oh I love this, and you know a whole lot about herbs and potions, LOL. Send me some willowbark, and possibly a draught of lavender. I am smiling. I can SEE that little hut, and the woman standing in the doorway!

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