Another name for the herb costmary, which was pressed between the pages of a bible,
for times when the sermon exceeded the usual two hours.
Grey green leaf, as long as a page
of duodecimo, snag-toothed like
a goose-tongue, and scented
with a bitter dusty tang, a depth
between clean sage and mint.
When the preacher has droned
past the slow point of drowsiness
and your fingernails have dug
deep into the heel of your palms,
open the bible and breathe in.
Its fresh sting will wake you,
scold you into puritan shame –
remind you there is light outside,
sunlight, rain and gardens.
Elizabeth Rimmer has published three poetry collections with Red Squirrel Press, Wherever We Live Now (2011), The Territory of Rain, (2015) and Haggards (2018), which included poems about herbs, wild landscapes, and ways of knowing, social upheaval and regeneration. www.burnedthumb.co.uk.