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On the Discovery of Aspirin

June 8, 2009 by · 4 comments

Rosemary Royston

Photo: jenny downing

Could it have been a three-day headache —
the kind with the relentless throb and slam
of the sledgehammer, the sick roll of the eyes,
the ache in the base of the neck,
that drove someone into the woods
shrieking in two parts pain, one part delirium
just mad enough to rip off slender leaves
and shove them into his mouth, the bitter taste
bringing relief not long after,
              or was it the midwife, helpless
against the feverish flesh and moan
of the laboring woman, who ran into the dusk,
tearing bark from a tree while reciting a prayer
in some unknown language, later helping
the baby make its way into the world
as the mother’s skin cooled and she wept
softly, like a willow moving in the breeze.

Categories: Frontpage · poetry


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