It began in Greece as Theriakos—
A wild animal with teeth that tore holes in flesh.
Then it became Theriake and turned into a goopy serum
Poured into the gashes and wounds.
The Romans imported it as Theriaca
And repackaged it as Triacle to the English
Who completely lost the thread
Because English really is a cluster fuck of a language.
Why not turn the sticky goo into Treacle and make it sweet
like Trifle or Turkish Delight?
After all, England is the country of White Queens
Turning forests into winter with no Chrismas so
Little boys go mad and betray sisters and that Lion.
A different lion lies on this tin of treacle
Transformed into Lyle’s Golden Syrup,
Still a sweet elixir,
Still a deft tip of the bowler to the original wild beast
Still a kind of antidote that might save us all.
Only Lyle’s lion is swarmed by bees
With a Biblical caption:
Out of the Strong Came Forth Sweetness
A cloyingly sentimental phrase
Which is all
That’s left of treacle
To this day.
The practice is inspired by Naomi Shihab Nye and her notion that words are like oars. Dip them in the water. Explore with them. Feel how they touch and bump up against one another. Let them take us further down the stream.