Gabriel Griffin

Flying ointment

My knowledge is the kind
that buds and blooms, my charms not
swelling breasts but aconite, hemp’s
sweat, the purple poppies’ ooze; my

spells the droning of fat bees
gorged on sweet-scented eggs,
their honeyed hum
dozing into dreams.

I’ve done no harm! Not put
the screech-owl’s curse
on running mouse or man, nor
infused toadstool’s candid spawn

to confound, confuse – or
worse! Nor ever used the
viper’s splitting eye
to make men die. Instead

I’ve helped old cows over
time give birth and milk,
rubbed out the pox on rosier
cheeks than mine and

eased the moaning when
Death’s pin has poked
too many holes in life’s
fine and fragile skin.

Simmering on my own
slow cures for doubled nights,
I get no thanks, expect no reward
for skills I’ve honed

alone; the flame soft swearing
at the log, a fever boiling
in the pot, midnight winking
at the door. I’m poor. Poor!

So what harm do I wreak
on you that you cry
Witch! and hunt me, pin
me, rack me, duck me,

stake me, baste me, want
me to die just because –
despite your will –
I fly?

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Flying Ointment by Gabriel Griffin was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (March/April 2020) judged by Mandy Pannett.

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