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Linda France

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The Love Potion of Polemius

engraved on a ring found at Corbridge,
now in the British Museum


*
He wouldn’t tell me what was in it.
It tasted of river, a tang of trout
with a trickle of heat under it,
wine to help it slip down gently.
It slipped down gently as a willow
                        coming into leaf.

*
I dreamt of gloves and shoes, the finest hide,
a second skin. Waking up was like dancing.
The sun lifted the sleep out of my hair
and I was up with the squirrels. Naked
as a baby. Hungry as a slave. Eyes
                        dry as kindling.

*
The first time I saw him I was a bird,
all feathers and song.. From up there
on the balcony I saw the sun
turn his hair to bronze as he walked.
I lost all power of flight. My face burned.
Couldn’t tell if the heat was his or mine.
He didn’t look up. I swear if he did
                        I would have gone blind.

*
Crowned and tawny, my lion heart.
Something gold about his eyes. He looks at me
slowly and I glisten. Makes me wait
till the sun is an arrow in the sky.
The best omen. He is the Emperor
of Amber, and I am a fly
                        locked in yellow light.

*
He invented magnetism. Science
was on his side. He brings me a bowl
of April, its lip so curved and gentle,
I catch fire. It takes an hour to get used
to the dazzle. We both powder into ash,
                        thinking of nothing but water.


*
The claw of morning. His early hungry rays.
Water and wine. A craving for trout.