and you tell him you’re worried you’d pick
something toxic. City girl: What do you know
about plants? He tells you he knows a couple
that foraged and ate wild onion (death
camas) accidentally. But what happened?
you ask. He’s given up booze, so now
he has ice cream and mixed martial arts
and you. They were fine, he says. Most
of these things don’t actually kill you.
“Fine” is not the same as “unscathed.”
If you know what’s bad for you, you can avoid it, he says.
You haven’t committed to giving up anything. So you have ice cream
and work and him.
The truth is, you kind of like getting sick
with other people. Your best memory with your mother
is when you both had food poisoning and threw up all night.
You couldn’t stop laughing. You’d never felt closer to anyone.
A death camas incident would be exciting
in a certain light. It would be a story. He fires
up his broken pipe and dried plant
blazes orange. Sometimes a piece
is just a piece and some berry is just a harmless
Huckleberry and his waterlogged field guide is just that.
He reads from the book about locoweed.
It’s relatively palatable, he says. Some animals actively seek it out.
It’s not hard to imagine. I’m sure they do.
A Cerisse Cohen is a second year MFA student and writing instructor at the University of Montana. She has published arts journalism in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal Magazine, The Nation, The New York Observer, and other publications.