Poem: The Lavenders

A sprig on the wrist
a spell for a plague
is worth two
in the bush
where the Lavenders
lay their cares.
Such a fair flower
stolen like sinning
sweeter than
scented from heaven
lost on earth. 
Found to be useful
for washing and cures
of body
and heart ache
lullaby-ing sleep
and madness. 
Such ladies at work
their laundry to air
for rumors
to ruin them
unless modesty
can save them. 
All through the ages
a toiling to some
and leisure
somehow a likeness
in essence. 
For how they do grow
Well drain’d in full sun
or covered
in winter
with still enough breath
to live on.
Clusters of secrets
that beg to be kept
and strewing
their hopes to the wind
and a way.

Writing note: In Medieval and Renaissance Europe servant women who washed in lavender water, placed lavender in linens or draped laundry on lavender bushes to dry became known as  ‘Lavenders’. The lowliest of these were sometimes reputed to be prostitutes.

Lavender has long had many uses and legends attached to it, and I have included just a few in this poem. Adam and Eve were said to have taken lavender flowers with them when they were banished from the Garden of Eden. The Greeks used lavender as a remedy for various ailments including muscle ache, insomnia and insanity. The Romans loved using the plant in their bathing rituals, believing it purified the body and soul. They gave it its name, derived from the Latin “lavare” which means “to wash” and introduced it to the English.

During plague epidemics it was credited with warding off the disease, often with a sprig fastened to each wrist. Today it is certainly a popular flower and herb, and taken only for its beautiful appearance and scent deserves much attention.

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