A Charm, A Salve…

In honour of Samhain – or Halloween, whichever you prefer – I offer up an incantation, my imaginary friend. This marvelous poem, written by Alexander Hutchison, is indeed called Incantation, and is best spoken aloud, at midnight or whenever you prefer – perhaps as a kind of primal scream of beautiful language to banish trolls and goblins and other such wicked manifestations. Hutchison said “while wishful thinking doesn’t do it, a proper determination can make the cosmos perk up and take a bit of notice.” Here is my determination…


I have a charm for the bruising

a charm for the blackening

a charm for cheats and impostors.

I summon from the cold clear air

from the bare branches of the trees

from worms coiling under the ground —

charm against cruel intent

charm for neglect

charm against wicked indifference:

may it lie on the white backs of the breakers of the sea may it lie on the furthest reaches of the wind.

A salve for those who would grudge against the poor a salve for those who would harry the innocent a salve for those who would murder children:

may it lie in the stoniest stretches of the hills may it lie in the darkest shelving along the shore.

A salve for those that would cram

whatever life they have with possession — for the rage of owning without entitlement for the desperate murderous possession of things:

may it lie on the cloud-banks that range across the sky may it lie on the face of Rannoch Moor in its remoteness.

A charm against mystification by doctors a charm against deception by the self-appointed a charm against horrific insistence:

from the breeze that stirs the last of the yellowing leaves from the slanting of the sun as it falls through the window.

a salve against grasping

a salve against preaching

a salve against promises exacted by threat.

              Grace of form

              grace of voice

              grace of virtue

              grace of sea

              grace of land and air

              grace of music

              grace of dancing.

A salve against the uselessness of envy

a salve against denial of our own best nature a salve against bitter enmity and silence.

              Grace of beauty

              grace of spirit

              grace of laughter

              grace of the fullness of life itself.

A salve to bind us

a salve to strengthen heart and happiness:

may it lie in the star-blanket there to spread over us may it lie in the first light at the waking of day.