The Five Finger Plant
a story in hexameter
This book is dedicated to Ann and Alfred
Having decided to meet every day underneath the old
Connie and Carol and Keith got some lawn chairs and set up a
They and Miss Prune would be telling the stories of herb lore
Maybe she came from the Krienols herself, although no one was
Keith did not think so. The Krienols watch over the plant
life in nature,
Having to do with the herbs that are healing, but they’re
Though Miss Prune looks a lot like them, she seems to be
quite a bit larger.
Wizened and wrinkled, she knows how to cure lots of illness
with herb lore.
Bordering woodlands, her cottage, with shutters like eyes,
dreaming plant life,
Often stands open to those who have problems or difficult
Over a hill and around the small lake, it’s apparent to
Who are not selfishly seeking. But otherwise they’ll never
There was a meeting that evening at sunset beneath the old
After the Midsummer solstice, for stories about herbal plant
Tales flow from memory’s wellsprings; they’re ready and
waiting for someone
Who has the patience to tell them; and now was another
Rays of bright light, which were streaming thorugh gathering
clouds close to sunset,
Brought back to Keith how the herb with the leaves like
five-fingers brought healing.
“How do I know? Oh, yes now I remember, it happened
Midsummer night was approaching, and I made a bet I could
Over the magical meadow, beyond that enchanted oak
Near to the lakeside of lilies, in back of Miss Prune’s
Timmy, the bully, had dared me by saying he bet I’d get
When Jim McGee had gone missing on Midsummer’s eve in that
People had said he’d been caught by the gnomes. He returned
in a fortnight.
Yet he said nothing about what had happened. He couldn’t
“Jimmy just probably wanted to miss his exams,” replied
“But the blue crystal he found in his pocket, whatever could
“Whoever saw such a jewel?” asked Connie. “Perhaps old Miss
“Maybe we all will one day,” replied Keith, “When the
sunbeams were shining,
I could recall what had happened to me just last year at the
Nobody knew I was going. I slipped out the window at
I’d packed a knap-sack with bread, and then stealthily crept
past the pine trees.
Down to the half-shadowed woodlands, I went, as the breeze
cooled my forehead.
Trying to find the old path to the cottage had taken me
Well, that’s not odd, for the realm we call Faerie is entered
Carol, you know the brown path seems to be just ahead; then
the owl hoots!”
“Startling it is, you look up,” answered Carol “then you’ve
lost the touchstone.
In the dark network of branches and stumps, the perspective
“There is no path afterall,” you say. “Then it is there once
It disappears a few times, before you can reach the old
“That’s what I meant,” replied Keith, “that’s the way to find
old Miss Prune’s cottage.”
No one was home at Miss Prune’s, so I took my own time about
Odd that the door was wide open and there was a basket of
Several flowers in back, began jingling to greet me at
Bordering Faerie, the magical meadow is misty at
It must have been close to ten p.m. Then I was through the
Who would expect that you’d feel almost blinded in that murky
Twisted damp grass, jagged roots, I could not see before or
But then I tried to be positive, and I soon found the
Wandering so in the wet after such a hot day was no
When I got used to not seeing, the coolness was soothing my
Thinking I’d just keep on walking, I followed my way stepping
Minutes went by; then came lights, bobbing lights, left and
right which I followed.
Forwards then backwards, but where did they lead? Were they
trying to help me?
Or, just confuse my own sense of direction? I called, “Won’t
you lead me?
Help me, I’m crossing this meadow!” Alas, then I slipped on a
Slid down a tunnel of mud and fell into a dream in the
...Watery earth full of herbs, that were pushing up growth --
until I too
Sank a long root into the earth. I was sensing straight down
to the center,
Rising through leaves, squeaking stems, through leaves like
five-fingers I melted.
Sap flowed inside me and up ‘til I felt I was bound to lose
“Tell me undine tell me why am I here?” And with that it all
‘Here is a story you earth boy, about how one day we were
Slowly along on the edge of a pathway, like always, so folks
All our light yellowish blossoms, and pluck us to eat in a
You can imagine the joy that we felt when a sunbeam bright
Spread into rays and soon beamed down to shine, bearing news
from the Castle.
Everyone knows of the Castle of Natural Wonders. Three
Which grow together, wherever they’re needed for service by
Krienols who picture the stories are guarding the towers of
And from the Castel, this message was heard! T’was much like
“Sylphs and Undines bring your foliage, don’t tarry, the
fever is rising,
It is the child underneath the old Hawthorne, Vanessa has
Leaves of five fingers shall cool and assuage the poor
child’s burning forehead.”
“Those were the words that transferred by the rays of the
sunlight – this order:
‘Gnomes take up roots and make haste to appear e’re the dawn
at the Castle!’
How did we know where it was? Our own heart knows the pathway
When we are needed for healing, we hasten: our name has been
Sparks of the Crystalline Sphere. And Vanessa the child who
Heartbeat to heartbeat, was weary; three days now her life
had been trembling
Just on the border of worlds; and our foliage would heal her
We were prepared, and then placed on her forehead, crushed up
Seeping a liquid, we penetrate deeply and heal the brain
Bathed in a tea of our roots, she’ll become whole and well
With the good will of the King Of the Elements, healing can
All the long morning her life seemed like dreams that were
waking and sleeping.
Patterns were shifting, and all of her forces had gone out of
Lost in a desert, bereft of all waterways, cracked by the
Nightmares were plaguing her soul-life, as fever was
threatening her life blood.
Dreams that she dreamed in those weeks were not ever
Years after healing, the images seen in her soul, are
And, above all, she remembers and tells of the Castle of
Hear her relate from the wellsprings of memory how it once
Then ask yourself, child of earthland, the reason you’re
hearing this story.”
“Summer had come to the woodlands and
day after day had been sunny.
Noontime was past and I’d tired of swinging outside in the
Sunlight too bright seemed to hurt my sore eyes, hurt my
head. I was dizzy;
I wanted water. But then felt so heavy that soon I was
Leaning my head ‘gainst the tree. I was thirsty but there was
I couldn’t move; were my muscles all twisted? My head was all
This wasn’t like any headache, my head would soon be cracking
Flames from my backbone were burning a column of fire in my
Drams of a brittle sky... I was ascending in white, flaming
Dizzying heights; white was welded; ‘til vaporish
melting consumed me.
Then the dry wind rushed. I fell on the desert sands,
Soon tossed aloft again. Lightning was searing the sky with
its fire breath.
Thirst was a torment there; I could not swallow; my lips
would not open.
When I saw water and crawled to the source, a small rivulet
Tricking me, then, disappearing or searing my eyelids like
Frightened, unable to breathe, I was pelted, and buried in
Hearing myself crying out, I awoke, with convulsions. “Oh
Mother and father would carry me over the magical
Through the stone portal to Faerie. We’d go to the Castle of
Cure Meningitis? The fever enflaming my brain.
What might cure it?
Leaves like five-fingers? If not I might perish alone in that
What was there real? Whitish vapor?” – “Follow
us.” “What was I hearing?”
I don’t know how we arrived at the Castle of Natural
“Green will be guiding, so
follow us. Don’t be distracted by heat waves.
Trickling the rivulets, trick
you by hovering over the sand dunes.
We are undines, we are winding
and gliding, we’ll find the blue fountain.
“Whispering, swirling green fronds, they made pathways of
Evening breezes were wafting, upwelling, as sand dunes turned
Freshness streamed through me; the cooling blue fountain
rushed into my bloodstream.
Murmuring, comfort undine glided downwards to wells I
Labyrinths slowly dissolved, I returned to my self and my
Five cooling fingers were rippling my scalp and then calming
Streams were now soothing my limbs, and entwining, ‘til peace
Now that I rested the lush world of Faerie had opened up to
Mists that were silver now dappled green landscapes with
early light dawning.
Free was my breathing; the cramping was ended. I rested
Sylphs in the coolness with rainbow laced lightness were
And the deep well of the world from inside and around me
Outside and inside was I at the same time, at least for a
Eyes fluttered open and white became colour. I knew where I
Mother and father, the healer who dreams herbs for healing,
Sunlight was pearly, I knew I’d be better, for they were all
Droughts and hot windstorms were banished, and brain fever,
“So elementals do bravely take part
in the healing of humans.
Little Vanessa was healed on St. John’s and returned with her
Home to the borders of Faerie. Because we’ve been chosen for
We of the leaves like five fingers are able to serve with the
Seeds are now sown in the garden. The Castle of Natural
In the herb garden we grow and are known for assuaging brain
He, who dreams healing and herbs for each fever, each illness
Smiles down on us for our watery leaves, running streams like
Thus you have heard us a story, you earth boy; you’ll wake in
“That is what happened to me,” said Keith. “Now I remember
It’s the Five Finger Plant, ‘Potentilla Reptans’, Miss Prune
Waking I knew where I was near the brook that can rhyme as it
I realized that I wanted to learn to ease pain and cure
I had been sleeping on foliage of herbs in the magical
“What do you think? Well, my pillow was made of the creeping
Crossing the rest of the way at the sunrise, then finding a
I made my way to the bus stop, just like any midsummer
I took the bus back around, close to six in the
morning; ‘twas easy,
Then I remembered my knap-sack beside the old brook by the
I could go back to the magical meadow and get it next
In the broad daylight it probably would not be much of a
I went back home through the window, I climbed into bed. Of
Never believed me, not even when seeing the bus ticket shown
“You can just see for yourself!” I said. “Bring me my
knap-sack, you bully!”
Down by the brook, just a pace from the magical meadow,
you’ll find it.
But he declared he would not, saying he didn’t eat mouldy
Little I care about him any more, if he wants no
Yet, I am thankful he made me that dare, after what I
Now I remember and what I remember may serve in the
“Something you said has reminded me of the blue crystal, I’ll
Silence is not always golden,” said Connie. “I believe Jim
More than he’d like to admit. We’ll be meeting again by this
“Tell it tomorrow,” said Carol. And so, we went home for the
Creeping Five-Finger Plant
...This herb, with its tapered five-finger-like leaf clusters and
yellow flowers is often
prepared as a vegetable, much in the same way as spinach.
Unpretentious though it may be, the healing forces it offeres are
of great value.
...In the case of brain fever of meningitis it is essential to
place the crushed leaves
directly on the forehead and head of the patient. This breaks the
fever and strengthens
the nerves in the head.
Johann Künzle: Das grosse Heilkraüterbuch, Verlag Otto Walter og