CONIUM MACULATUM

What must I do?’

Just drink it and walk around until you legs begin to feel heavy, then lie down. It will soon act.’

Hemlock paralyzes from the feet up. When it reaches the lungs and heart, you either jump in a ventilator until the poison leaves your system or you die. Socrates drank the potion. He was surrounded by weeping young men, but being Socrates, told them to get a grip. He wanted to die in silence. I don’t know if I would have played it that way.

This evening I got an email from Karen, whom I’ve worked for, asking my advice about how to get rid of poison hemlock. Her 8-year old grandson has moved into the downstairs apartment, and he and his friends love playing on the jungly slope of Mt Sutro which rises above her house. She did some research about the plants there; it turns out the pretty weeds that look like Queen’s lace could more aptly be called Queen Anne’s arsenic. A little bit ingested can do you a lot of damage, vid. Socrates. Shut down the grid.

Two little riddles on the grill: one, how could I have not known of this plant? All these years I thought Socrates’ hemlock was some essence of Tsuga, the conifer.

Two: Have there not been multiple times when I’ve been crawling around in a thicket of these very weeds, oblivious? Beguiled by the spotted purple stalks, the ferny leaves, the white clouds of bloss ms. B begu led, quit e lovel a d leth

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