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 hierbabuena.
She moves down her porch steps, rubs
cool morning sand into her hands, into her arms.
Like large black bird, she feeds on
the desert, gathering herbs for her basket.
Her days are slow, days of grinding
dried snake into power, 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 the desert.
By sunset she is tired. The wind
strokes the strands of long grey hair
the smells of drying plants drifts
into her blood, the sun seeps
into her bones. She dozes
on her back porch. Rocking , rocking.
At night she cooks chopped cactus
and brew more tea. She brushes a layer
of sand from her bed, sand which covers
the table, stove, floor. She blows
the statues clean, the candles out.
Before sleeping, she listens to the message
of the owl and the coyote. She closes her eyes
and breaths with the mice and snakes and wind.
Mora is describing the dependency of the close relationship between nature and the curandera for the survival of the curandera as well as the people she heals. The desert, plants, blood, wind, and sunlight are all elements which the curandera abides by in her living as well as her healing. These elements are a way of life for her. When Mora states ,"The curandera and house have aged together to the rhythm of the desert," she is inferring that the house and the curandera have been through the same things together almost as one. The
house and the desert are personified in a sense, they are people or her friends which give her knowledge and tell her what she needs to know. The rhythm of the desert may be the calm way of life which she leads. Her days seem repeated day after day, almost like the wind blowing through the desert. Pat Mora also uses the curandera as a simile to a bird when she writes," Like large black bird, she feeds on the desert, gathering herbs for her basket." Mora is trying to convey the fact that the desert is her source of life which she must use all of its resources to survive. It is the desert from which she gains her knowledge, it is also the desert
from which she gathers her herbs by which she uses to heal other townspeople, which is also how she makes her living. Mora uses the townspeople's' stories metaphorically with the desert when she states, "She listens to their stories, and she listens to the desert, always the desert." Mora once again is describing the close relationship the curandera possesses with the desert almost as the same relationship that one may have with a mentor or a teacher. In the end Mora describes the curandera the curandera before she sleeps she writes, "She closes her eyes and breaths with the mice and snakes and wind." Breathing is a necessity for
life. One must breath in order to survive. For one, the curandera, to be able to breath in sync with the mice, snakes, and wind would show that that person, the curandera, is capable of communicating with nature as well as humankind. This factor is essential for all faith healers in that they can use this communication with an ultimate reality to cure those who need her.