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A Medley of Remedies

You were raised in mud.  You watched rain fill
your footprints, cut potatoes in half,
then rubbed the stains from your sock ankles.

A dish of toadstools in milk silenced houseflies.

Then why, later in life,
this dragging the canoe of sorrow
over dry land?

I lost my husband, young, his body,
 ash, scattered
faster than a dandelion puff.

In summer you never pulled them from the lawn.
You walked about with the aim-‘n’-flame
from the barbecue,
zapping each in a crackle
before they blurred on the wind.

Fastidious, I was.

Perhaps that’s why it seems natural to you:

the wet rag dipped in wood ash
cleaning the shop windows;

the handful of rice tossed into the guitar box
to shake loose the grit.  The same
for the violin.  In the back courtyard

a woman rubs her cold iron
with a handful of salt, then begins the day’s journey
through a hillside of sheets.

You step away from the window. 

If it’s too cold after siesta,
one part salt and eight parts corn meal
brushed through your hair
will suffice as a dry shampoo.

What is it you fear?

Their pain is real and mine remains a phantom.        
I’ll open my mouth and patriarchal toads
will fat daddy out….   

You dissolved the bloodstain from your t-shirt
with your own saliva, hung it over
the shower rod to dry,

then removed the MIA pin
from your backpack strap.

If there’s a moon after dinner
you’ll read this morning’s notes:

To ensure a rifle fires well, stuff the barrel
with thirteen chilis, then hold it over a fire.

To ensure a jaguar does not toss back your bullets
wrap each with a pubic hair, then load.

If someone steals your words,
ring a bell over their footprints

then press the rim into their heels.


by Luisa Villani

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