Poet’s Nook: “Holy Elixir” by Kate Tempest



I touch the beginning
Animating animals and tree Gods
Scratching out legends in cave walls
The days pour down into nights as we watched
We matched stars with peaks
We fought beasts
We caught food for the feast
And we walked to a breast to receive the bound wheat 

The grass
Black and strange
As we razed plains to ash
We laid claims
Exchanged grains
And made pacts
And we clashed
And we strained
And the rains lashed
The young maids were brave but they were made to lay flat
The old ways were too ingrained to make the reins snap
We laid traps 

We gave our names back to the Saints
We sang out thanks and complaints
We burned fat
Arranged bones in the flames
Each bird a great catch
Our songs were spells
And our spells were plain facts 

She laid down in the road where the people go by
And declared herself willing to try
I laid down beside her
But all I could see were the feet as they walked over me
That’s when she told me: “I was Holy Elixir”
She said “I thought I knew the world but it was only a picture” 

She said “We’re all written in the holiest scripture
It’s just we’re living in this time that says no inhibitions
Get yours, keep going, the distance, no limits
And don’t bother protesting because nobody listens
All your solutions dissolve under scrutiny
And you can’t stand a note of derision
Instead seek approval to justify your existence
Have opinions but have no resolve or conviction
Just keep your head down
Breathe the fumes and indulge your addictions
Routine is healthy, ignore the affliction
The cost to the soul and the constant constriction
Don’t consider too closely, have no intermission
Keep throwing your fists in slow repetition
Most of us manage, what makes you so different?
Now, you seem a bright spark
Go ahead, take the road with the pilgrims
Head for the temples of democracy
Freedom, growth, reason, liberty, hope
But don’t pay attention to what’s hanging from the rope” 

She said “Decode the language
Unfold the symbols
Untold disciples got lost in the hillside
Following intellect, they let go of wisdom
And now they’ll tell you the soul’s a closed system
They sacrificed instinct to phony ambition
And now what they hold in their fist has become all that there is
But total existence needs meaning and myth
Many misjudged the way and got lost in the mist
Your loneliness is the symptom, not the sickness” 

The moment her lips said “peace”
My peace melted
I became a memory
I felt myself peel
I was atoms
I was real
She said “We are born of collision
We are divisions of a bigger vision
And yet
We run around like hamsters
Spinning the wheel
Spinning the wheel
Spinning the wheel” 

I was on my knees then
Begging for pardon
I was old and clothed in white garments
In a vast red desert
Where the rocks were dark blue and varnished
And a voice said
“This is the garden
Now you better start sowing
Or there won’t be a harvest” 

I came to
Under a domed roof
The light was cold and clear and fragmented
There was people, moving
I watched them
I saw a muscle of school girls performing
I saw the ticket woman massaging the small of her back
And the young gent, neat as a crease in his work clothes
And the light, light as breath on the dirty, old track

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