St. Brigid’s Day Poetry Reading

The Sorrows

by Gary Fincke

<!– (from The Fire Landscape: Poems) –>

Whatever the Sunday, the sorrows kept the women in the kitchen,
My cousins and their mothers, my grandmother, her sister, all of them
Foraging through the nerves for pain. They sighed and rustled and one would
Name her sorrows to cue sympathy’s murmurs, the first offerings
Of possible cures: three eggs for chills and fever, the benefits
Of mint and pepper, boneset, sage, and crocus tea. Nothing they
Needed came over-the-counter of through prescriptions not bearing
A promise from God, who blessed the home remedies handed down
From lost villages of Germany for the aunt with dizzy spells,
For the uncle with the steady pain of private swelling; for passed blood,
For discharge and the sweet streak from the shoulder. In the pantry,
Among pickled beets and stewed tomatoes, were dark, honeyed liquids,
The vinegar and molasses sipped from tablespoons for sorrows
So regular they spoke of them as laundry to be smoothed by the great iron
Of faith which sets creases worthy of paradise. And there, when only
A hum came clear, they might have been speaking from clouds like the dead,
But what mattered when the room went dark were the voices reaching into
The lamp-lit living room of men who listened then, watching the doorway
And nodding at the nostrums offered by the tongues of the unseen
As if the sorrows were soothed by the lost dialect of the soul,
Which whispered to the enormous ache of the imminent.

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