Balm & Lamentation

Blood of an eye: tamarisk gall.
Blood from a shoulder: bear’s breach.
From the loins: chamomile.
Blood from a head: lupine.
A hawk’s heart: heart of wormwood.
 — From Coptic & Greek Magical Papyri

Schematic humans    ...    figures of them, & their helpers    ...    

pheromones rise
    odd jagged breath lines, serpentine imagination,


        for the love of larynx
name them, say them, dis-articulated    ...    

But frequencies in “settlement” contexts    ...    where
scent might rise from

migrant distances & disappearances

    child keeps saying keep the bottle    don’t smash    ...    my water, my life    ...    

or death aroma, if it come

Who will settle    ...    & you? all of you?

what is landing

        to transit?

artifacts seem solo today    ...    more horror, & twisted

Some things get special treatment    ...    
her head a succulent melon

her neck         for example, a slope of
yearning    ...    warnings    ...    something dark
in that jar    ...    


winding bandages, shrouds for beautiful bodies

or useful equipment covered with ocher    ...    always red in rust    ...    

and hoisting those urgently dead,
    & stink of the dead

    ......    Wheels, mainstays: coils and springs, tense feet

pebbles! notice them?
& their incisions, sitting in bowls
lending credibility    ...

    ......    decorated pebbles

& from chambers, like strings of agate    ...    

you want to enter to get a dark glow    ...    you want to get them back    ...    

& there might be prayer, mantra, keening
there might be

                 a boat’s ribs         tossed         shattered

Pre-homo sapien hominids crossed from Africa to Crete in rafts

water dripping from stalactites    ...    

images in end zones

    ......    ubiquitous makeovers

females at entry    ...    secrecy    ...    once    ...    mirror    ...    
now disfigured out of gender

mothers with no milk

and in between    ...    are you ready to ride? or die?

Another might be “abnormal water”    ...    tame and wild

abnormal can be very still

six humanoids, one with bird feet

others horned and beaked, very still    ...    

    ......    Maybe, necklace, round one of “other”

    ......    and a random scarf for the alien

& burning of aromatic wood by the shore
& Minotaur waits his turn

Some want to arrive right now    ...    
some hesitant    ...    one walked to the shed, hides

resistant to sea-edge location    ...    

Get out of the tunnel, memory is leaning itself to
sweet awe

in the other: makeshift pods    ...    a tent perhaps

That kid    ...    apprentice    ...    took long way around, another thought world
he’s going to be oral, open the bottle    ...    quick getaway

circles, arcs, fortification of the zigzag when smoke rises    ...    

              says: I’ll show you

Kind of a narcotic archaeology?...    


    ......    Herbs speak    ...    you think?
or how to breathe

There’s a beautiful fumerie

there’s perfume like hers

[per-   fumer = “through smoke, thoroughly smoked in scent”]

get a drift    ...    

charcoal scrutiny against intrusion    ...    


Working with willow rods that’s the method, bring great bundles of them, put on the ground, scatter them
pronounce them, saying:

“here’s one”
“here’s another one”
“here’s one, there    ...    over there    ...    ”

Willow rods, very consoling      you don’t have to be a Scythian    ...    
        you don’t have to be Syrian to know this

pronounce what you want to say

& then the ones more like women use a different method

they take a piece of the inner bark of a lime tree
        & cut it into 3 pieces
which they keep twisting & untwisting around their fingers
        as they say    ...    

“there’s a turn”
“there’s a turning”

“how many turnings in a twisty one?”

makes the pronouncers happy

staying up all night, notice the moon & its macabre signal

& hemp vapor tents on the horizon

Walk upside down in the footprints of the living    ...
More Poems by Anne Waldman