Receipt Medieval

Lisa Russ Spaar Click to

SpaarLisaRuss0806Lisa Russ Spaar is the author of Glass Town (Red Hen Press, 1999), Blue Venus (Persea, 2004), Satin Cash (Persea, 2008) and most recently Vanitas, Rough (Persea, December 2012).  She is the editor of Acquainted with the Night:  Insomnia Poems and All that Mighty Heart:  London Poems.  Her awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Award, and the Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize.  Her poems have appeared in the Best American Poetry series, Blackbird, Ploughshares, and Virginia Quarterly Review, and her commentaries appear regularly in national venues.  She is Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.  “T’Parson’s Anne” first appeared in Shenandoah 49/1.

Even in sleep, I can’t sleep
but am prone, paralyzed,
a plucked & boiled swan
crooked in a gelatin of savory cherries, bays—
             Tak & undo hym & wash hym
& do on a spite & unarme hym fayre

broth of sleep-aids, ethanol,
middle-age, denial, by nature
breast-sogged, habitué of dank,
mantled, melancholy pools.
             Hounds raised me up,
guffaw of terror, sopped, shawled wings,
carnelian legs dangling.
Hawk dropped, the arrow struck.
Whence now the lost dreams of racing
through the old neighborhood,
flight above the treetops conked with fire?
Breasts like nuts that showed
through vesture, waist two hands might span?
         O Hypnotics,
youth’s a brief convent.
Salte it, & boyle it wel in a postnet
& sesen it with a litel veynegre.

Three gilt pills mark the Apothecary’s street.
Try to hold the rue and signage as you go
about that cobweb market.
Color it with the blood:
A courtly hue & cry.