Urban Physic Garden



July 7th, 2011 · No Comments · Medicinal Plants Poetry Project

The Butterfly Visits the Skullcap

She lands like a blown umbrella on your ribs,
spokes taking root – a terrible shot
at putting up a tent. The wind will test

your fidelity, her resolve. Each skinny thorn of leg
ends in a tongue, and you are all tongue,
a purple cloak spread across the puddle of dawn.

When the goddess calls, her cloak starched to wings,
you don’t refuse. Let her taste you, guzzling at
your pharmacy, your tart sleeping draught.

She’ll lose her child this way,
but no matter. Let her sup and slurp,
those blank, dry eyes full of holes.

Her proboscis curling, a spasm will rattle
the corseted segments of her long body
and she’ll be gone, a fan stolen by the breeze.

When the bleeding starts, she will return,
unable to holler or howl, cursed with delicacy,
to walk on your freckled chest once more,

but you will be long gone, exiled from the stem,
now a hitcher driven into the gravel
again and again, by an angry woman’s heel.
Kirsten Irving
(From Herbarium, a new poetry anthology. Launch and reading 22 July)

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