Ode on Datura

Drink this tea, he said, and you will fly naked
into starlight. I drank, felt tired, and sat on the couch
and ate potato chips. Drink this tea and you will not know
yourself. We drove along the freeway by your old school,
without direction or speed as light raptured down
through barred clouds scudding across sallow fields
where coyotes loped. Drink this tea and you can speak
to your dead lover in a stone wall and no tears will come.
You will hear angel trumpets and taste thorn apple,
henbane, mandrake, deadly nightshade…
Sleep was no longer sleep. I slept, a dull
flat space, and woke in fits for three days,
wondering where I’d find myself again. Myself,
bare flesh, reddening flesh, breath quick. The body
is where love ends and fear begins. Drink this tea
and you will feel the root of each emotion
in your limbs, your thumping, squeezebox chest,
sweat clings to your forehead, saturates the sheets,
your dreams are all fire and tongues
that surround God as he explodes into stars
in an expanding universe of chaos. I woke.
I stepped onto a balcony overlooking the sea,
the small beach town where I grew up.
The lighthouse flashes from a rocky point
and the scrolling waves pound sand.

Christopher DollardChristopher Dollard’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Barrow Street, The Cossack Review, The Freshwater Review, The Little Patuxent Review, The Rappahannock Review, Redactions, Tirage Monthly, Watershed Review, and others. He lives in Providence, RI, where he works as a waiter to support his writing habit. Find him online at www.christopherdollard.com.