Witch Hazel

The poem below, Witch Hazel, by Theodore Enslin, (American poet, 1925-2011) perfectly conveys the sting of clarity offered by Hamamelis, or witch hazel. Flowering in an otherwise blunted winter landscape, witch hazel is impossible to ignore. It draws the attention tight. Similarly, it is valued medicinally for its great astringency – tightening and strengthening blood vessels, preventing haemorrhage and clearing infection.

 This:
 That is my straight-flying fury.
 And not this:
 The dead bone of poetics buried
 under sacramental clouds
 of sleep or of wine, or too much
 awareness of the things that are not there:
 Ghosts. 
 
 I will make directly through
 the woods where the early and late
 witch hazel keep blossoms in a long season.
 Cut me a switch! […] 

 Cut me a switch to whip old ghosts
 through sunsets to the morning. 

Enslin, Theodore, The Median Flow, Poems 1943-1973, Black Sparrow Press, USA, 1975.

Image above: Hamamelis japonica Siebold & Zucc. Revue horticole, sér. 4, vol. 63 (1891).

Main image Hamamelis mollis. Curtis’s botanical magazine. Vol.129 (1903)

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