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Ode to If


The yew is an If in French.

Guardian of churchyards

It roots creed in doubt, believing

Than not, Most ancient tree

It pays no heed to generations or centuries,

or the double effects of its taxanes

on living beings.


Yew poison is nothing like Socrates’ hemlock.

Its movements precede judgement,

honor and principle are questioned.
If infusions bypass the lips, altogether,

a catheter planted in the breast

leads the doubtful melange directly

to the heart, and mind.

The cure destroys all cells that

grow in haste,  ancient recipes are

careless of side effects; at times the body

vibrates, like lute strings echoed

in a slow-grown, yew-hewn chamber.

Note by note,  I become bittersweet, 

a queston, an if.


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