Other guys had dreadlocks or beards
silver-threaded with curls of carnal knowing.
His wings were invisible, but his tongue glistened
with an A-Z of plant wisdoms and sage witticisms.
Every day, he fed me new leaves, chopped, ground
and smoked. The laughter was aphrodisiacal.
His protective Acacia promised physic powers.
I swallowed all this juice, relishing the future
suggested by paired leaflets; I knew we’d no need
of Adam and Eve roots for love.
He told me Adders Tongue was healing. I didn’t ask
for what, or let drop that I’d tasted snakebite before.
When we jumped from Angelica to Arabic gum,
I noticed the missing Apple.
I feared his powers were weakening.
Bittersweet was our failed attempt at fixing.
Bored now, I grew keen to fast-forward.
He’d nothing listed for ‘z’. I didn’t voice
my own entry: the ‘zzz’ of instant sleep,
leaving us with Yucca –
supposedly for transmutation.
My teeth scraped his creamy sauce
from the plant’s sword-shaped leaf;
it did nothing to quell my hunger.
That night, when he opened his wings
to hold me, the feathers that brushed my face
were edged with black. I wasn’t sure whether
he’d always had this, or if the dark tinges
were my gift to him – a last glimpse
of something beyond his garden knowledge.
Sarah James is an award-winning poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer, with poetry featured in the Guardian, Financial Times, The Forward Book of Poetry 2016, on the BBC, regional buses and in the Blackpool Illuminations. Author of seven poetry titles, two novellas and a touring poetry-play, she also enjoys working with audio poetry, poetryfilm, photo-poems and VR. Her website is at www.sarah-james.co.uk.