The Crucible

By Kate Meyer-Currey

Your life’s base metal
mutates as flame hits
the retort and its dross
evaporates into molten
gold. You are distilled
into elixir of experience.
Your personal alchemy
is transformative but its
fragile equilibrium is an
unstable compound: light
as air, chancy as water,
burns like fire and cold as
earth. Align planets with
your personal cosmos to
avoid malign influence
from mundane elements.
Be wary when antimony’s
marauding wolf howls at
your door. Mercury has a
snaky sting in its tail; you
can slip on its quicksilver
beads from life to death in
a split second. Salt melts
into tears. Sulphur makes
funeral baked meats of
your mature body. The
philosopher’s stone is
merely another brick in
the wall of your waiting
tomb. Apply this formula
and fortune will favour
you as far as practical
magic’s constraints
allow; for as you know
by now, life is merely an
experiment where art
and science combust
into phosphorescence;
a brief transfiguration
where inner light out-
shines death’s sluggish
dark, mocks our decline
into phlegmatic humour,
dogging our slow steps
to weary dissolution.

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