Urban Physic Garden



June 23rd, 2011 · No Comments · Medicinal Plants Poetry Project

“Especially recommended for fair, blue-eyed women.”
M. Grieve, A Modern Herbal (1931)

Your body, that clay two-handled jug,
is dislocated; either it shivers with the ghost
of the potter’s wheel, or it voids all food
and leaves you a grey-blue tenant
in a saddle of bedsores. At night,
you become a hive: the shudders,
the pistons in your femurs,
thrust your legs like foils at me
and your nurse, and the cousin I know
would kill me and marry you, if he
could stop your seizures. Brushing back
that sweated weed on your pillow
that in a former life I knew as hair
like molten butter, I pull from my waistcoat
a vial; the juice of a purple lion of a flower,
an anemone, spined and silken like you.
Too much cure and your dance of death
will wake the mountains. They will groan
and stand straight and goats will tumble,
screaming, from their backs. Too little
and nothing will happen. You will slowly rot
here in this pokey room. The years will find me
playing backgammon with my rival,
crushing glans-mauve petals
between my fingers.
Kirsten Irving
(From Herbarium, a new poetry anthology. Launch and reading 22 July)

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