Strange Claims

I wash myself
in an infusion of lavender and rosemary.
I’ve read strange claims made for that.
I am a fool for strange claims.

I bite my tongue then spit the blood
into my palm and wipe it on the bark
of an oak tree while asking it to guide
my spirit to strength. I am a fool,

they tell me, to do such things,
for expecting magic to offer anything.
I am a fool, they sneer. There are times
when I think they are right, but there are times

when I rise after suffering in darkness
full of whispers whose source I cannot name,
and at once hold a knife in a candle flame
then step outside and plunge the blade

into the earth and bring it up free of soot,
and all my fears wiped clean as well.
Then I come inside and say, it’s going to be
a good day. I’ll deal with the dark

when it returns, but now I will bathe
in rosemary and lavender
and if later on today I bleed
I will offer blood to the oak in tribute.

I am a fool for strange claims.
I am a fool for thinking more of magic
than of psychology or philosophy,
yet no one can tell me

that this old coin my mother gave me
when first I left home did not keep me safe
as she promised it would, that I am not 
here because of this token, this talisman

I have carried to wars foreign
and domestic and come out better
than when I left  — yet I am a fool,
they sneer, a fool for believing

strange claims. No matter.
It’s a terrible world and to get through
I do as I do, have done, and will do. 
One day,
I know I will fall in the dark

and there I will stay, rolling the coin
in my fingers, saying just this: 
I kept the faith,
Mama. I never let go
till I had nothing left.
It was not the magic that failed.

About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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