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By Pat Mora

They think she lives alone

on the edge of town in a two-room house

where she moved when her husband died

at thirty-five of a gunshot wound

in the bed of another woman. The curandera

and house have aged together to the rhythm

of the desert.


She wakes early, lights candles before

her sacred statues, brews tea of yerbabuena.

She moves down her porch steps, rubs

cool morning sand into her hands, into her arms.

Like a large black bird, she feeds on

the desert, gathering herbs for her basket.


Her days are slow, days of grinding

dried snake into powder, of crushing

wild bees to mix with white wine.

And the townspeople come, hoping

to be touched by her ointments,

her hands, her prayers, her eyes.

She listens to their stories, and she listens

to the desert, always, to the desert.


By sunset she is tired. The wind

strokes the strands of long gray hair,

the smell of drying plants drifts

into her blood, the sun seeps

into her bones. She dozes

on her back porch. Rocking, rocking.


Pat Mora, "Curandera" from Chants. Copyright © 1985 Arte Público Press - University of Houston.  Reprinted by permission of Arte Público Press.

Source: Chants (Arte Público Press, 1985)

  • Living
  • Mythology & Folklore
  • Nature

Poet Bio

Pat Mora
Born in El Paso, Texas,  poet, writer, former teacher, university administrator, museum director, and consultant, Pat Mora is a popular national speaker who promotes creativity, inclusivity and bookjoy. She is the author of many books of poetry and children’s books. Mora and her husband live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. See More By This Poet

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