Two Poems by Alexandra Citron

Remedy against new hatreds and the common cold

Once I was simply apple. Crisp, a little tart,
depending on the dispensation of the sun
and that year’s rain.
But now I am all onion, unpeeling
new layers of disbelief,
unravelling fresh rage until I am just
raw skin and exposed nerves.
Invective seeps from my tongue.
Can this be right?
I sneeze, cough, rant at the screens –
What? and How? and This, again?

Friends! I call to the white witches
Send me remedies to battle these contagions!

Red onion for fortitude, says one,
skin and all. Boil with lemons for tenacity.
Another adds garlic to ward off the evil eye,
and ginger to warm the blood with cinnamon
and cloves. A third says chilli, just a pinch,
for vigilance. A fourth swears turmeric
will soothe the inflammation of the soul.
All agree two spoons of honey
to remember, after all, that life is sweet.
The last insists on tears –
a seasoning of sorrow for remembrance,
of fury for the fight.

If I should die I wouldn’t mind
if you buried me under the paving stones.
I would come back through the broken gaps
in waves of blue forget-me-nots opening
their constellating hearts.

I would feed prides of dandelions
purring at the bright sky
until they turned from fierce gold
to grey-capped cranes
in drifts of floating memories.

My blood would taste of wild strawberries,
my body slink into worms tunnelling
under the feet of blackbirds
cocking their heads over thick grass
to listen for my heartbeat.

I would wake with dunnock and song thrush
and fall asleep to the peacock calling
over cedar and chestnut and every spring,
through frost-worn cracks,
I would swallow the rain and begin again.
Alexandra Citron was born in the US but has lived in the UK since her early teens. Her poems have appeared in Mslexia, Visual Verse, Ink Sweat and Tears and the Emma Press anthology Everything That Can Happen: Poems about the Future (Edited by Suzannah Evans and Tom Sastry). Twitter @AlexaCitron