The Vine

by Niamh Prior


They call her Mother Ayahuasca.

She wound invisible tendrils around us,

uprooted and pulled us in aeroplanes 

across the Atlantic, the Pacific, North America.

From Iquitos she took us by bus then boat.

In a trance we marched through knee deep mud 

into the belly of the Amazon basin where 

Shipibo maestras: Ines, Anita,Maria, 

Rosita rinsed us with flower water. 


At night she incubated us in the Maloka

where we lay like insects and pulsed as one.

The plant-infused maestros sang their ikaros

each song entwining in the others, 

spiraling up to the vast conical ceiling 

of wood and leaves, fused in darkness 

with the rising chorus of crickets, frogs, birds. 


She put her mouth to the crown of my head, 

sucked out the weight and coughed it up. 

When the past floated, like scum and rose petals, 

Ilias blew it away in a puff of mapacho smoke.

I rippled under the breeze of his breath.


When fear came for me, a grey spiked thing 

That hummed and quivered in my ear

I looked it in the face and it blossomed 

into flowers, turning every colour all at once. 


I call her Mother Ayahuasca.