At eight I learned the word ‘tincture’. I carried
the word around on my tongue. I chanted it
like holy word, like spell. Before that, it was
just ‘potion’ or sometimes ‘perfume’. Flower
petals collected, leaves. Certain grasses would
bleed milk. Breath of Heaven for the scent.
Clings of spider web. An old cupboard door
for a chopping board. A river rock for pummelling.
Jams jars with creek water. I would cut and crush.
You had a gun and I had a knife. Chop and stir.
Mix it in with a stick until full
and frothy. The tang of damp nature.
It’s a tincture. It’s a potion. It’s special perfume.
Set free for whole mornings, whole afternoons.
Our house made of bamboo. Our tyre swing.
With our pockets full of crackers and boiled lollies,
we would go. Across the road, down to the creek.
Into the goat cave high up a mud wall. We’d scramble up
and sit, ankle deep in goat shit, on wooden beer crates.
Try to catch the fresh water crabs, belly crawling
along the creek edge. I had a knife. You had a gun.
Aged eight, aged six. Shimmying along
back fences stealing fruit. Acid stomachs
from too many sweets and apples. We stayed
until it got dark, or there was a call from home.
It is a tincture. It is a trick. It is a treat
It is a locket, for locking
and hiding down a shirt,
against a heart.
From The Comforter by Helen Lehndorf
Published by Seraph Press
Used with the permission of Seraph Press
This poem has been posted as part of the Tuesday Poem scheme
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