Urban Physic Garden



June 24th, 2011 · No Comments · Medicinal Plants Poetry Project

Sure as I’m dying, I need it. Bring
them nuggets of zingiber, fire-packed rhizomes
to mash into candy or jam between pillows –
banish hag-rodeo! Bring that curio
brings me luck, most outrageous medicine,
puts charge in me, want for that juiciest medicine.
Let me gnaw it and gob in the westerly
(right up my back as I’m making the dead run).
Mix it with nutmeg and ground John the Conqueror
so that I might have the upper hand. Bake its
pulp in a bread to gag dapper gamblers
like Death. It’s the best bet – ask Dr. Bronner
or Dioscorides. Get me that jake root,
that stick of mouth-gelignite, brute tongue-number,
that flashover powder, that head unblocker,
that knothole of daggers, that good thrumming petrol,
that woodknuckle jumplead, that sting-in-a-knock,
fresh from the citadels, fresh from the spade,
or not fresh – vintaged in mother’s cupboards,
stowed in a clay jar, fossilised, strung on
a necklace worn by a princess or priestess
fresh from a grave at the foot of the Andes
or fresh from a boat from the faraway islands
or dangle it still strung from her gleaming neck,
or have her chew it to glistening, hating me.
Whole or in pieces, tenderised, tampered with,
stuck on a blade, in a bowl – but I need it
now and I need it now and I need the
tubers, the fist of them, blunt fat fingers
damned with the furious ting, with the jaggery,
crystals and dust and the bundle of nodules
fermented or dashed in a cake or concoction.
Bring me it, that I might go tooled up,
my last breath searing the eyes of the footman,
splinter and spice in my trinket teeth.
Jon Stone
(From Herbarium, a new poetry anthology. Launch and reading 22 July)

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