February 24, 2019

Poetry by Andrew Hubbard: "Granny Neauville"

Andrew Hubbard recently moved back to Indiana after ten years in Houston, Texas. He has had five books published, including, most recently, his first book of poetry, "Things That Get You," which was produced by Interactive Press. He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2015. His new book, The Divining Rod, is available at: http://ipoz.biz/portfolio-single/the-divining-rod/

Granny Neauville

They call me a witch,
Mostly because I’m old and ugly
And I live out of the way
In an abandoned cabin
That used to be somebody’s hunting camp.

I guess the bent back
With a little twist
Makes me witchy too.
And the cane.

If I was a real witch
You bet I could straighten up
And throw the cane in the fire.

And I could stop the roof leak
That I swear follows me
Around the cabin to wherever
I set my cot when there’s heavy rain.

And I’d ride a broomstick
My, that would be fun.

And the boys who win a dare
By throwing rocks at me
I’d stop ‘em up so bad
They’d cry tryin’ to go toilet.

But I ain’t a witch
Not in the regular use of the word.

I’m an herb doctor.
My granny taught me
When I was a little girl.

She said, “I know every herb
In the woods, and what I don’t know
Ain’t knowledge, it’s book-learnin.’”

She said, “There’s an herb
For every ailment of man and woman
Because God wants us to be happy
And you can’t be happy if you’re sick.”

Once when I was about seven, I said,
“Why didn’t God just make us
So we couldn’t get sick?”

She was quiet a long time
And then she said,
“Because God don’t work that way.
Don’t you be questioning God’s ways.”

Then she was quiet again a long time.
I thought she was praying for me
Cause I said something wrong,
But now I think
My question vexed her
And she was trying to work it out.

She died before her time
Of the wasting disease
And now it’s only me
Left with the knowledge.

Sometimes it troubles me
There’s no one to come after.
It’s lonely, but I consider
It’s part of God’s plan
And not for me to understand.

So it’s just me,
Me and the herbs.
(Granny called them “yarbs”
But I got the modern pronouncing.)

Some I hang in bunches to dry
Some I steep, or boil
If I need to hurry things along
And some I lays in the sun
For them to get their strength.

I don’t go to people
Even though the only other herb lady I knowed
Went door to door with her wares.
She was older and more bent than me
And they found her dead one day
In the middle of a dirt road.
They was afraid of her
And buried her at the crossroads
So her spirit couldn’t rise.

No, people come to me.
Almost every day somebody comes
With their complaint, sometimes
It’s pain or nightmares,
Or a guilty conscience
(And I cain’t do nothin’ for that),
But by far most of the time
It’s about love or sex,
And I’m blessed if I can tell the difference.

With things like that I can help.
At least I think I can.

I give them what I can
And they pay me if they can.

If they don’t come back
Does it mean they was fixed?
Or does it mean they wasn’t fixed?
I almost never know.

This can’t go on forever.
I’m real tired,
And there are days
I can’t get out of bed.
I’ve got a horror
Of being buried unmarked
At some crossroads
So I’ve writ out a paper
About what to do with me
And where I’ve got a little silver hid.

It won’t be long now.
And I’ve got the pride to say
I never hurt nobody
Only tried to help.
I just wish there was somebody
To carry the knowledge on.

I hate to see it all lost.

MAY 2018
~Andrew Hubbard

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