|Buddha Amida, Japan|
To the Herbalist’s...
To remind me, with its symbol of the snake and staff,
that Asklepios teaches – not just the cure for illness,
but its meaning.
The cure then becomes a path,
a journey, a slow unwrapping
of the unknown.
It can make your heart pause
then flutter – pause, then glide
and shift, as if it stretches
in its skin, then steps out -
and enters all of your perceptions.
It can be difficult to walk along the pavements
when they glow – when people glow
and buildings glow, like this.
It doesn’t matter that apothecaries
of the present day don’t drop herbs
into alembics, mutter incantations
as they stir; that potions are sold
across the counter by bright-eyed
healthy-looking young people – the potency
is unchanged; though I regret
the passing – in this country – of the symbol -
the snake twined round the staff -
a reminder of where the power comes from.
Medicine in my bag, I then remember
there’s a jadeite axe
I’d like to see, in the Museum.
But it’s not displayed, I’m told.
Instead, I see this being
of serenity, shrouded in lotus calm,
protective guardians behind him.
And – of course – he’s glowing.