Le Jardin des Simples

It was in Egypt that he first saw the turn
Now it was a question of getting the mixture right
Too much water and the thing wouldn’t burn
Too little and the bush itself would ignite. . .
and be incinerated.

I mean – he could stand all impressive and aloof
Once he came down off the mountain
There was the risk that some might ask for proof.

I mean – talking shrubs and self-carving rock
(broke like soapstone) a bit too much
to swallow maybe, no really: what a crock.

So he had to be ready to do his trick,
They might be dumb, but they weren’t that thick.

As it happens though, he practiced too long
And by the time he finally got down
He found them carousin’, really horsing aroun’
So in the name of this new shrub-dwelling
Law-steward he’d dreampt up
He had over 3,000 of them skewered.
That would show ‘em
Just how loving and forgiving
This vowelless diety was gonna be.

l’envoi

I saw the trick in a movie once:
Le Hussard sur le toit The doctor
Washes his hands in ethyl alcohol –
Known to have existed 9,000 years ago –
And then sets fire to them. Sterilization
After touching cholera victims. Neat trick.
I still prefer that movie to the old book.
Cholera never killed a tenth as many
As mixing Hebrew with voodoo.
But what a showman that Moses guy.

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