Home > Poetry > If It Comes to the Relevant Glyphs in the Papyrus
Amy Beeder
Published: Tue Oct 26 2021
If It Comes to the Relevant Glyphs in the Papyrus

They advise sprinkled honey & an amulet of Isis
             or date-acacia paste applied to wool

but pennyroyal’s local. Steep it with some tansy,
             or better: bitter cohosh. Horsemint in a pinch,

fennel stem with sludge of boiled mouse:
             all the understory smashed for secret teas

(oh dear)

             My dear

Silphium, worth eight times its weight in drachmae,

is now extinct. Try prayer. Calf liver’s crimson
             spill in milk. Your own sour piss. Don’t think.

Try bleach. This lye.
             Squat trembling above a pot

of steaming onions, tightly bind the waist. Several
             tries might be required. Can you manage

an electric shock? Rummage up some phos & lime?
             (Phos is short for phophorus. One East End

woman to another, in that accent we still find
             picturesque: ’Ave you any phos and lime,

luv?) Have you any wire? A sharpened bone?

Whale is best. Or a turkey feather (really any quill),
                     a knitting needle or a bike spoke, some

dust from the tabernacle floor, why not

hot opium on a long broom-straw. Nightshade. Gin.
                     A mason jar & tube, a veterinary syringe.

Amy Beeder is the author of three books of poems: And So Wax Was Made & Also Honey (Tupelo Press, 2020), Now Make An Altar (CMU Press, 2012), and Burn the Field (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2006). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, The Southern Review, AGNI, Kenyon Review, and The Nation, among other journals. Recipient of an NEA Fellowship, the “Discovery”/The Nation award, and a James Merrill Fellowship, she has worked as a creative writing instructor, freelance writer, political asylum specialist, high school teacher in West Africa, and human rights observer in Haiti and Suriname. (updated 10/2021)

 

 

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