Farmwoman’s Initiation (after the style of Sappho)
     In memory of Bessie, Kathleen, Addie, and Cora
by Linda Ann Suddarth

When you were young, Bessie,
with golden hair tumbling to your knees
you caught rain in a magic bowl
and washed your hair there.
The goddess knew what you were about.
Then rain and mystery you gave my mother,
she the sweet one of silvery laughter’s darling
and then to me, the uninitiated.
I was brought to rain’s softness
and you called me to be brave
go out and walk barefoot in the dew
with nothing on but my nightgown
made of pale moonlight
now diaphanous in the morning sun.
Is there no relief or understanding
of the pain in my womb, mothers?
These nymphs have dug up
the sacred sassafras root
boiled it and blessed it
given it to me to drink.
A potion from mothers to daughters
from that sacred thicket
and all is well—only good has come of these things
since Aphrodite blew her kisses.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  It occurred to me after I was grown that my grandmother Bessie, though she was a sensible farmwoman from the Ozarks of Missouri, was like an initiatrix into th mysteries of the feminine and nature. She did indeed dig up sassafras root and mail it to my mother, so that it could be boiled and made into tea. It was evident to me that some herbal knowledge had been handed down through generations. This and her encouragement to walk around barefoot in the dew in my nightgown, was a kind of coming of age for me. Without any fanfare, she made it feel comfortable. The message was that Aphrodite was just part of life. The dedication is to her, my mother, and my great grandmothers.

IMAGE: “The Garden of the Hesperides” by Edward Burne-Jones (1877).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda Ann Suddarth sees the creative life as a vital expression of the psyche. Linda has been writing poetry for thirty years and has published in many poetry journals. She has a BFA in painting; an interdisciplinary MA in Aesthetic Studies; and a PhD in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology. Linda is on the Board of Directors for the C. G. Jung Society of North Texas, and teaches English and Art at Richland College in Dallas. Her blog is