Nemophilist, an ancient Greek word
for a haunter of the woods,
is a perfect way to describe
my daughter. Instead of weeping
for her, I’m going to dry my eyes,
and take her two children hiking.
I’ll teach them everything I know.
Everything she taught me.
She knew about shinrin-yoku
long before the rest of us rushed
out for our forest-baths. She knew trees
were sacred givers of life and keepers
of wisdom. On every walk in the woods
she’d greet the plants and trees,
asking them for guidance and healing.
Gingko leaves are fan shaped,
Bodhi leaves look like a heart,
Pacific Hawthorn heals cancer.
It’s thanks to her I am friends with
chamomile, yarrow, and dandelion.
She taught me to ask permission
of a plant before picking, to never pick
the entire crop—leave half for next
year—and to always say thank you,
even when picking stinging nettles.
—For my daughter Mahalia.
May her memory be for a blessing.
was born in South Africa and now lives in Los Angeles. She loves hiking and shares her fascination for the natural world by leading school children on hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains. Her poetry has been published in Contrary Magazine, Verse-Virtual, ONE ART, and Blue Heron Review.