Folk Remedy

by Allen Weber
FreeWrights Peer Review
Second Place, June 2013
Judged by Linda Sue Grimes


You boil white willow to relieve my grippe.
Sassafras, horehound, and pennyroyal teas
can calm a cough; and dogwood bark kills fleas.
Feed cornsilk, steeped, to our bedwetting imp.

Poultice that wound with common summer weeds;
yarrow or jimson seeds should do the trick.
Press hard an iron key against your neck,
if unprovoked your nose begins to bleed.

A rhubarb necklace quells my bellyache.
Rhododendron cools Gran’s rheumatism;
on her shingles, rub blood from a chicken.
If moonlight darkens your beautiful face,

I’ll share your lips with passiflora vine,
a three-way kiss with bitter medicine.


The delightful “Folk Remedy” plays out in a finely structured Elizabethan-like sonnet that cobbles together the various uses of herbs and plants for their healing properties. The slant rimes in the quatrains highlight the nod to the traditional form, while providing just the right dollop of skepticism about the efficacy of the herbal remedies. The couplet featuring a sight rime that yields “a three-way kiss” juxtaposes passionate sweetness and the bitterness of medicine. The speaker completes the texture of familial closeness by bathing its miseries in soothing balms. --Linda Sue Grimes

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