The late August sunlight slants lower now,
gilding the tall dry grasses with its
golden honey hues.
I find her hidden —
shy among the shadows of
bright and emboldened goldenrod spires,
veiled beneath the delicate umbel skirts
of Queen Anne’s lace.
I am late to look this year
and like me, the yarrow
is just past her prime.
Her tiny white blossoms
have begun to shrivel and dry
and yet she still thrives on energy
drawn from her love of the sky
and the warm, sun-drenched earth.
They say she was born of the rust
scraped from Achilles’ spear,
and her blossoms and leaves were used
to staunch the bleeding wounds of soldiers.
I whisper a prayer of thanks
and harvest just enough
to craft a tincture that I hope will heal
with slow intent.
It’s been more than seven years
that you’ve been gone
my son, and the wound of your leaving
still slowly drips with my blood.
In the Middle Ages, yarrow was thought to both summon the devil and drive him away, and in the Victorian Language of Flowers, this delicate herb represented war and healing. These opposing qualities are intriguing, but to me, the real magic of yarrow is in the way she thrives in dry, hot and sunny climates and stores energy we can use for slow, intentional healing of deep and lasting wounds.
Note: It seems important stress that yarrow does not heal, she simply stops the flow of blood. It is we, the soldiers, who do the healing.
Image: Diane Perazzo