Charm for a Lost Child


Sister: I bring you woundwort -
we’ll pack your heart and staunch the flow,
cut a wand of yew
against love returned cold.

Soon you will stop bleeding -
we’ll leave him on a trestle,
scattered with feverfew, sew sprigs
for a shroud to keep him so.

Sister: you shall strengthen
as the moon fattens,
your blood ripening -
I’ll take you to the nettles

their fierce bite, the boys cut down,
our mother bending willow
and we’ll dress him in butterbur, dear sister,
fairest yarrow.

Little rough one of the moors,
take these beneath your pillow:
nine stalks of royal fern,
foxglove flowers, fennel,

three bones of an old man
newly torn from the charnel.
We’ll burn these on embers,
smear the dust over our breasts

and sister, against the cold stone,
the sea’s hand, the wormy rose
he shall not wither away
but grow as true love grows.

FullEd Scolding