By Suzanne Marshall
Pale, leathery leaf, lobed
like the palm of my hand, clasps
a slender stem, artery-red,
with single white flower—
the first each spring to push through snow
and the fetid forest duff behind my house.
My mother always knew where to find them
in her Minnesota woods. I remember her
kneeling, pushing back leaf litter,
uncovering the plant. To show me
its secret, she picked the flower.
Red sap bled in her hand.
Was it dead?
What I couldn’t see—the rhizome
buried beneath the earth, branching out,
connecting one to another,
The next spring, the next, even in these woods
years after my mother’s death,
the bloodroot will bloom again—
Minnesota-born and raised, Suzanne Rogier Marshall taught English to middle school students for nearly forty years, publishing several professional articles and a book on teaching poetry. Her poems have appeared recently in Portage Magazine, U.S.1 Worksheets, Watershed Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Tule Review, and other journals and anthologies. She is the author of Blood Knot, a chapbook published by Porkbelly Press in 2015. A few years ago, Suzanne retired to the mountains of New Hampshire, another “up north,” where she enjoys canoeing with her husband, tracking bobcat, and practicing tai chi.