Poem: Wild Fennel


Look at them, they are giants! Just like
the flaming stalk of one another giant
carried from Mount Olympus to Earth,
fire stolen from the gods, the gift of civilisation.

Poor Prometheus. He paid for his defiance,
of course. Well, his liver did, pecked
by an eagle day after day, renewed each night
until that champion, Heracles, set him free.

I wonder why he chose a fennel stalk.
Surely, he wouldn’t have been short on torches,
oil soaked cloths. How could a fibrous stem
have kept the fire blazing? But it’s a myth

not a history. The sense it makes is what
we want it to make. Fennel as food, insect repellent,
as medication. When I sip my home-made fennel tea
a story of courage, of generosity, enters me.