Friday, September 28, 2012

A Remedy For Memory


A Remedy for Memory





Walking widdershins,
wind your vine around the
headstone of a first wife
dead in childbed.
Let the gourd increase over graveyard
grass, watered with the grey cloudwine
of starless night.

When the fruit is full, scoop out
the innards, then pierce it a mouth with
the sharpened legbone of  
an old doe who
stumbled at the last ditch.
Let this dry in October sun.

Meanwhile,
take the howl of a midnight train
three sparrow feathers, nine grains of skypollen
from a falling star, six tears from
a drunkard's melancholic fit.
Mix with the scent of last summer's promises
and a cupful of nettle's milk, well

pounded with a fist of stone in a
hollowed heart. Fill your gourd with this liquor, 
bury it at the crossroads for seven weeks, then
exhume it and drink deep
under an extinguished moon.
It may be then
you will forget him. 

Should this cordial fail you,
marry the butcher.

~September 2012




Posted for   Fireblossom Friday   at real toads

Shay looks ahead to Halloween and asks for a poem with some eye of newt. (Not listed above, but always an optional ingredient in these little cordials of mine.)



Optional Musical Accompaniment









Image: Cauldron of the Sorceress, 1879, Odilon Redon 
Public domain, via wikipaintings.org

35 comments:

  1. haha....marry the butcher...smiles at the ending...what an intriguing incantation....love the opening rhythm you create with the alit and internal rhymes...of course the magic in the middle...i guess we will try anything to forget eh? smiles.

    hope you enjoyed your break hedge...

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  2. You, my dear, are an absolutely BRILLIANT writer!
    I cannot even express how much I adore this!

    Have a magical day!
    :)

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  3. A stunning brew. Lots of visions. It almost like scary is beautiful. Widdershins.

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    1. Thanks Scott--was going to stick Season of the Witch with this one, but forgot. ;_)

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  4. Thanks for putting the Donovan in--hauntingly beautiful--as is the strange and desperate spell making to forget. And the laughter-- I have never met a single butcher. And I have never met a butcher's wife.

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  5. I would say what a creative recipe this is, but maybe it's real! I love the language, and the back door contingency with that butcher. :-)

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    1. Thanks, Ruth. Always good to see you. I won't open that existential debate, though. ;_)

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  6. I love the way remedy and memory sound so close together. Your recipe style is perfect for this prompt, and I relished each ingredient, and the final word of advice.

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  7. "drink deep under an extinguished moon".......one of my favorite poems of yours. Just stunningly wonderful. Even more so than usual.

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  8. Thank you, Kerry and Sherry. My kind of prompt. ;_)

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  9. And even all that may not be enough! This is so delicious - sounds born of real stuff and perfect with Donovan's tune.

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  10. Love the recipe - but I would take the easy way out and marry the butcher...

    Anna :o]

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  11. PS Just noticed the ladybird (with parachute) - what an excellent pic!

    Anna :o]

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  12. I love scary things...what a recipe you have written...and if it doesn't work marry the butcher! Love it!!!

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  13. I love that opening "walking widdershins", because that gives the whole thing a contrary motion from the outset, and after all, it is an undoing, a forgetting, that is being sought.

    What evokes a feeling of real and unspoiled love more than a first love or a child? To involve the death of both in this recipe is asking for dark help indeed. And the gray cloudwine...that's just inspired.

    "Pierce it a mouth"...that's so much more abrupt and ragged than "carve" or some other word. To use the broken bone of something as harmless as a doe is, again, a turning backwards of something primal.

    I love the tears from the drunkard's melancholic fit. Tears can be noble, or poignant, but the choice of these particular tears makes them sound cheap and momentary, induced by a vice. Everything in this poem is stood on its head.

    Suicides, as I'm certain you knew when you wrote this, were buried at crossroads so they wouldn't walk and haunt the living. Seven, in numerology, is a negative influence, a turning back or a working against of something. While nine is the number of endings, seven is the number of setbacks. A numeric Saturn, if you will. What a potent brew this is. So, to call it a "cordial", is a clever misnomer.

    Even that ending, "marry the butcher" doesn't seem to promise happiness, but rather, blood and death and slaughter. Not something one wants to be married to, but if the instructions fail, that may be just where one finds one's self. Thanks for writing such a rip-snorter of a piece for FBF!

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    1. Thank you Shay--the hours I spent getting those words to show their faces are amply rewarded with a comment like this. As always, you see into the poem, not just read it.

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  14. Upon re-reading, the word "meanwhile" makes me fall down laughing.
    This is perfectly perfect, Joy. Poe himself couldn't have come up with a better recipe, especially "the howl of a midnight train"!
    K

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  15. Oh my WORD. This is gorgeous, from start to finish. Fan-freaking-tastic. My favorite:
    "nine grains of skypollen
    from a falling star"

    And anytime the word "widdershins" can be snuck into a poem, I am a happy, happy camper.
    This is incantation at its finest, and I am mesmerized by its heady spell.
    Perfect.

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  16. So, here you definitely earn your name! Just terrific. Wonderful. Incantatory and (literally) enchanting. Well done.

    Especially like (well, especially like the end) but also especially like - pounded with a fist of stone in a
    hollowed heart.

    k.

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    1. Thanks, k. Hope you have a relaxing weekend.

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  17. Perfect bit of spell casting with a perfect ending!

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  18. After reading Shay's insightful comments, I'm left just nodding my head...and thinking how much I enjoyed your magic!

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  19. Shay, this actually brought tears because it was so perfectly brilliant. Brilliant is too tame a word but it is the best I can do, having been undone by this poem.

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    1. Thanks, Lydia. And if you are going to call me by someone else's name, Shay is quite a complement, also.

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    2. Gosh, Amy, that's terrible! I dunno, Ames, I think I would be offended, being confused with Shay.

      Have a great day, Amy!

      --Heather

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  20. i'm happy i didn't read your poem before writing mine.... your potion's truly magical!

    and i wish i would have thought of "Season of the Witch" for my music video!!! i love Donovan and named my daughter Jennifer after his song "Jennifer Juniper."

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  21. It may be then
    you will forget him.
    Should this cordial fail you,
    marry the butcher

    My, there's no holds barred. It's to forget him or nothing. A point of no return! Nicely Joy!

    Hank

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  22. I love it! So much depth in your incantation!
    I love these lines:

    "Meanwhile,
    take the howl of a midnight train
    three sparrow feathers, nine grains of skypollen
    from a falling star, six tears from
    a drunkard's melancholic fit.
    Mix with the scent of last summer's promises
    and a cupful of nettle's milk"

    The darkness of your words takes us there~
    I can see it :D
    I vote to marry the butcher!
    I knew you would not disappoint ;D
    Brilliant

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    1. Thank you, Ella. So glad you liked it.

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  23. wonderful...and what a punch line!!!

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  24. HW,
    I think the real aim of this recipe is to keep one so busy doing impossible tasks that one has no time for thoughts of the lost loved one. Either that, or once you drink it, it kills you. Same result anyway! This was wickedly wonderful and a pleasure to read.

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg