Howard Firkin
planted 1621
The same herbs that cured nothing then are still
grown here and still cure nothing. Take your pain
around the garden beds and look in vain.
The diagnosis that I’m staying ill
is tart as stolen berries in my mouth.
I bob between the fresh grave beds. I read
the labels, mispronounce the Latin words.
I’m lost. I can’t identify the birds
or flowers here. I’m foreign as a weed.
Physician heal me: plant me facing south.

I tear a bay leaf from its tree and crush
its brittle green, release its spice, and let
its perfume drug me with the poisoned rush
of memory. To heal is to forget.