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September-October 2009

Four Poems by Sandra Ridley

Sandra Ridley

Paraffin & Palm Spilled Salt

A bitter of angelica & artichoke with carbolic strengthens & pacifies her body.
Or sixpence spent brings up a blood-sweat & blister pops by tonic & suction cups.
She’s not bilious but swollen lymphatic.
Cracked bone cage filled with paraffin & palm spilled salt.
She’s undressed & under wraps — O spirewort! O collywobbles!
A rapscallion pins her down.

Posset of Foxglove

Red stripes & white. Angel strapped to his humbling chair.
Spun & blood-let. Gooseflesh bristling.
Her eyes twitch a dream of the tree killer.
Torn holes & poison poured to roots for a view — trees dying where they grow.
Moon slit slipping in & slipping out of white pine. Star whorl.
Mane whip. Her petticoat in a maiden heap.
Foxglove sleep on a merry-go-round behind barbed fences & ivied walls.

Flower Water of Saffron

Swallows saffron & canary wine. A somnolent myth saves her.
Or entreats an iodine salve—ward against skin tap & fat scraped off bone.
Wakes up a wisp of leaf.
A shrivelled lung.
Lifts her head & weeps.
Wades deep into heavy water & floats her dead man.
Or sinks into his gaping pool.

Tincture of Mandrake

Black bile & melancholy before a sponge soaked with mandrake.
Or hemlock held over mouth & nose.
Before twilight loosens her body. Before spasms—stiffens from an injection.
Barbituate release.
Before Cerletti & Bini & the dogcatcher’s truck.
A dog roped & current through a frantic heart & sectioned brain.

Trust in me.

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