Jul/Aug 2008 Poetry Special Feature


by Antonia Clark


My grandmother drank
celery juice for headaches
and fungus tea for her joints,
a woman in constant pain
with a cabinet of brown bottles.

She had a quick hand, kept
a willow switch by the door
to ward away evil and punish
nosy types with sticky fingers.

From the bark, she made
a bitter witch's brew, a cure-all
for children with bad manners
and evil habits of thought.

I made my own thoughts small,
tucked them into secret pockets,
where they lay hidden,
gathering power.

Under the stoop, the cistern
threatened to swallow me whole.
To taunt whatever lived below,
I drew a chalk target
on the concrete lid, peppered
it with pebbles. But always,

I circled it wide and warily,
her fire agate brooch clenched
like a talisman, a hard stone
of guilt in my sweaty palm.


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