Henbane


Henbane

I shall look for henbane
In the darker places,
Where nature’s graces grow pale
And the frail root is white
And writhing like a worm
Smoked from an aching tooth.

I shall say sooth, I shall fly
By horse and hattock
Through the sabbat-black sky.

The flower like veined flesh,
Its purpled pulse corpse cold,
And pistil like a licking tongue,
The leaves haired and viscid,
Flower heads funnelled and drooping
With their own deep narcotic.

Into hot water, this herb I hurl,
Raise a storm, and stew
My ointment while the winds whirl.

Some shall I save, to burn
With frankincense and fennel,
Cassia and coriander,
With black candles on a stump
In a dim wood,
When the darkling birds take flight.

Spirits of the night shall rise
Where henbane burns, dimly,
Like the smouldering in their eyes.

Giles Watson
Copyright 2002

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