Saturday, December 27, 2008
Datura Stramonium: To Dance with the Devil
Beads of sweat
Upon the trail
Through the pasture
Amid green meadows
On purple flowers
Of feathery palms
In spiky armor
The Devil's weed
Displays its horrors
Fears take form
In ghastly fashion
Gills to breathe
Housed with the mad
In aquatic sphere
Of cryptic lunacy
To the light
On nectar sweet
Of madness divine
september 8, 2oo7
In late August, 2007, my husband and I hiked some pasture fields in Virginia, directly off the Blue Ridge Parkway. I counted some 30 thistle plants with seed pods, which brought to mind datura.
Though the thistles that day weren't datura, the image was intriguing. This poem was born..
Betwixt the field thistles butterflies danced. I thought they probably do the same with Jimson.
Inside datura's spiky pods, rest devils' seeds. I thought, "How ironic....the beauty, grace, and freedom of the lepidoptera feasting on sweet nectar beneath which lurks such a powerful potion of darkness."
I danced with that potion when I was 15 years old; it was a 4-day sleepless nightmare of hellish hallucinations (an understatement). Sometime I may come back to this post and fill in some detail...and maybe not. Suffice it to say, verses 6 through 9 in the poem are a peek. Each was as real as life itself.
One of my hallucinations while intoxicated was of 100s of black cockroaches crawling over my body, a fanciful flesh feast. Not suprisingly, it took me over 20 years to rid myself of a dreaded, horrific fear of roaches.
I got a job at a science center as a presenter in the rain forest area. One of my presentations? Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Upon our first introduction, I took a deep breath and allowed them to discover my hand. Over time I became friends with the little fellows. After multiple encounters, the terror ceased. I'm still not fond of roaches, but neither am I terrified. ;-)
Hint: Don't dance with this devil; the price is too high. To learn more, just google jimson weed.
Links to two memoir pieces I wrote about my dance with jimson weed:
Part 1: A Green Hornet and Blackbirds
Part II: Witch Doctors and Roller Coasters