A Simple Folk Remedy

There was a fear went forth and it entered the homes of nearly all the citizens. It passed all the way to the horizon, past the saltmarsh and the shoremud, past the seacrows scolding it for impertinence, past the farmers first and then the fishermen and then even the tourists with their tan corduroy jackets with patches on the elbows and their boxes and boxes of Bermuda shorts and their culottes and their unfinished woodworking projects and their brand new ethnic clothing. It spread even to the scuba divers who surfaced looking for the signs of a storm and found none.

Then a hermit came down from the mountains and said, “Draw nigh.” And the people drew nigh, for the hermit was something they had forgotten. And the hermit said, “When I am ill, I come down the mountain to see who I really am.”

“We are not ill,” said the people. “We have simply come to see the hermit because he does not live in a correct manner,” said the people. And the hermit laughed, but not too hard, so that he would not offend them.

And the hermit walked out into the field where the people had gathered and began chasing rabbits. And the people laughed.

Pretty soon the people were chasing rabbits towards the hermit so they could watch his funny antics as he tried to catch them. Of course, the hermit never caught any rabbits, but when most of the people were in the field chasing rabbits towards him, he stopped and began laughing even harder than the people had laughed. And the people and the hermit were laughing so hard at each other that the rabbits became very confused and they caught them.

You could almost see the fear receding from the people’s hearts and the horizon beckoning once again to researchers and Winnebagos and pup tents and executive leadership retreats and seminars on the art of sensual massage and wilderness hiking renewal achievers and herbalists and new age urban insomnia children.

And the hermit went back to his mountain, refusing several offers of honorary doctorates and chairs in religious studies programs and ate berries and roots and tried hard to live in his own inadequate body.


About the Author

Rich Ives has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander. An interview and 18 hybrid works appear in the Spring 2011 issue of Bitter Oleander. In 2011 he has been nominated twice for Best of the Net and once for the Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Thin Air Creative Nonfiction Award.