©COPYRIGHT CATHY GRINDROD // ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2015
I did everything they said.
I am wearing the Abracadabra still.
The pedlar promised it would keep us safe.
I picked barberries.
They took so long to wash and dry,
To crush to powder with the salt.
They did not mix well with the vinegar.
I made John drink it. Kept him warm.
How can poison cure?
When the children took sick,
I searched for walnuts, bought wine.
The walnuts are steeping still.
It was Mary brought me the flower medicine.
I gave it to them, kept them warm.
When the sores came, I knew it was lies.
But I made the paste – bay salt, rye meal, four eggs.
Jane told me about the pigeon cure.
I spared them that.
The last thing I did, when they no longer knew me,
I took a bag of onions, hollowed them,
Put inside fig, rue, Venice Treacle, roasted them,
Pressed them to their sores. All night, frantic.
I sit here now, shivering hot,
In a house still stinking of onions.
The Reverend is bringing feverfew.
Off On 1
I would just like to say
to you who sat beside me
on the H1 bus
which left at 7.55 am
and took one hour ten minutes
to attain its destination,
that I hope you relished
those two bags of
you devoured for breakfast
half as much as I admired
the expert way you masticated
smacked and crunched your route
through Oakwood, Smalley, Heanor,
Codnor, Leabrooks, Somercotes,
and maybe I should also mention that
I finally decided
after sixty seven minutes
of intense deliberation
that the music from your headphones
would be best entitled ‘mad assassins
sharpen up their axe blades’,
though ‘fingers on the blackboard
with the needle stuck sonata’
would have come in pretty close.
Thank you also for allowing me to find
that I can manage with the best
of British passengers
to look ahead expressionless
while fantasising wildly on you
v e r y s l o w l y s t a r v i n g,
while people way above you stuff
their mouths with crisps
and treat you to the bass note line
of angel choirs for a l l e t e r n i t y.
Used for a Christmas card
('...a robin's average life span
is not much over a year...')
Go for it Robin. Burn
your red breast on our gardens,
our parks. Breed bright
on our Christmas cards. Be.
Quick flick, twig to twig,
Tic tic tic sweeee. Flit free.
Swivel our heads if we dare
turn away. Make a din.
Go into battles to win.
Prove those legends old hat -
breast bled from the thorn
of the crown and all that -
Eat. Breed. Make men believe.
Sing us that soft wistful song.
And again. Sing it again.