The Quiver March 2022 Poetical Challenge


When I hear cure, think meat or fish,

osmotic treatment, covered salt,

to drain the fluid from the flesh –

a type, transfusion, lifeblood drawn.

Or pilgrimage to holy wells

to take the waters, bathe away –

though succour’s in community,

companions’ journey, sharing bread.

Those quacks with instant bottles, pills,

who promise symptomatic change –

a course without lifestyle review,

but duck, ‘what’s post-subscription deal?’


I should search etymology,

uncover roots of terms concerned,

turn up, like medic, dictionary,

to see if doctors interleave

those heal cure steps like country dance?

A lexicon, psychology,

to check if mine’s an open mind,

research, of course, theology,

less faiths shed insights, worthwhile, wise?

But reason, logic fail to reach

the pulse of spirit, heart and soul,

where cure or heal, raw pains emerge,

so confidence sheds light or tricks.


A cure’s removal, takeaway,

a rally, re. mission, preachers’ talk,

the burden cast off, hints of sin

removed, a weight from shoulders, lift,

a lighter tread, fantastic trip?

But cure deals symptom, heal beyond,

so far from hoedown, heel and toe.

The cure of souls, absolved for pay,

some kind of scapegoat, blame erased –

but what is cured? We still decease,

and why treat death as last disease?

A second life, reborn to die,

myths, parables named history –

I often think of Lazarus;

at his revival, clock tick ran,

relentless ageing carried on;

what birthday cake, which pension book;

did taxman Matthew, have a view?


Much more is healing, core made whole,

completeness known whatever dread –

indeed that very dread dissolved,

evolving shock, despair and hope –

not in some maudlin laissez faire

though greatest power in vulnerable –

for whole, while injured or defaced.

I’ve known disabled, healed of ill –

as too, resentful, bitter framed;

yes, and those able, needing same,

their body health unmatched in self.

Cure may be sickness gone AWOL,

but we know vacuum then abhorred;

does healing find us, interim –

if cure restrained, our health assured?


Stephen Kingsnorth

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had over ...more