The Hermits

Warmth activates the sugars,
and sugars rally
in the gorse, in the flowers
it sees with, the scent
that is its voice,
the nontoxic fragrant wood
good for cutlery, and for burning,
though it flares out quickly,
unlike smoldering peat. Are they converting

sugars of their loneliness
to conviction? Burning
their sugars on the wicks
of their frailty,
one can nearly read by them,

as Fillan in his own cave read
by the light of  his broken arm,
one of the horrible miracles
of the times — 
St. Fillan, the Human Flashlight,
patron of the mentally ill — 

an unenviable between-worlds
position.
Whereas marsh orchids,
fully in this one,
change their clothes
out in the open, hard candy
in their mouths,
the sugars plump, round, smooth,
unlike seawater’s jagged molecules,
which when drunk like anger
will tear through you.
Like bitterness, desiccate you.

To survive, suffering burns
the strength of the afflicted. If,
left in Fillan’s cave,
bonds of the stricken
were loosened by morning,
his spirit had intervened to convert

the molecules of their madness,
and still later did smugglers stash there
some of those little things
that make life worth living.

The highly edible
sweet gorse flowers
produce a coconut-flavored wine
if one enjoys the luxury of time,
and a tea prescribed in cases
of uncertainty,
for those who appear
to have lost all hope.

More Poems by Karen Solie