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by Angela Davis Tartaglia

Perhaps it was when the hood of my cloak fell
that my eyes made their cruel mistake
It cast shadows on the garden where I sought
for my darling the Angelica root I planted young
in the new light of May, and then, pulling it from its black bed
to place in my basket with the fresh sweetflag root
it was on to my kitchen to chop, chop with a loving hand
and a swift, sharp blade; and then a fortnight to wait
in love and anticipation for the roots to steep in a jar
with the red wine and the ground cinnamon before
I strained it into a bottle, a warming stomach wine
to soothe those aches that kept my love in a sweat
at night; dreaming aloud, muttering women's names,
poor soul slipping away into another world.
He drank it down fast before dinner,
his attentions so distracted of late
that he did not heed my warning
and then before the roast was in his mouth
there was a froth at his lips, and his purple face
looked nothing like the one loved so well by me,
no arrogance now as he fell to the floor,
his body, so much younger and stronger than mine
making a dull thud on the wood,
but still he was beautiful to me, even as he lay there,
deceitful blue eyes staring up at a darkness blacker
than the soil of the garden, poor soul slipping away.
Angelica archangelica; was it the light of day
that confused my eyes when I pulled from the ground
your twin sister, the Water Hemlock?
Perhaps it was the hood of my cloak.

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"Angelica" ©2000 Angela Davis Tartaglia. Used by permission of the author.
 Raven Electrick ©2000 Karen A. Romanko. Clipart by Corel®.