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The Origin of Myth

by Ed Ochester

That summer I was drinking
apple cider vinegar because I read
in an obscure book it was good
for my health. A tablespoon or two
in a glass of spring water, with a bit
of honey or raw sugar. Controls weight,
the book said, flushes harmful toxins
from joints, tissues and organs.
“Doctor George Blodgett drank it
every day, and remained vigorous
until his death at age 94.”
                                                         One reads
and perhaps believes almost anything
when one has lived alone for a while.
I felt good, doing it, though perhaps
that was because I walked on the beach
every day, swam, then walked again,
collected beach glass smoothed by the waves.
Pale blue and green, like solidified air,
dark green like emeralds, very rarely
sapphire blue and once a tiny piece
of red round as the pupil of an eye.
No one was on the beach because it was
September, and I had a white cabin
to myself. I swam and walked and read
and ate sparingly. I had come there
to be alone, and to think things through.
Every morning I drank my vinegar.
I read that the soldier who gave Jesus
vinegar on a sponge did so not in mockery
but in pity, to offer a restorative.
After a week I set the “red eye” on my desk
so we could watch one another. At dusk
the mist far out over the water looked like
distant hills, and I understood how
an earlier inhabitant might have thought
these were mountains that rose at nightfall
and disappeared with the dawn.


Ed Ochester’s most recent books are The Land of Cockaigne (Story Line Press, 2001), Cooking in Key West (chapbook, Adastra Press, 2000), and Snow White Horses: Selected Poems 1973-1988 (Autumn House Press, 2000). He edits the Pitt Poetry Series and is a member of the core faculty of the Bennington MFA Writing Seminars.

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