It sounds like poison
in a putrid shade of purple.
“Hand me that bottle of vitriol,
I’d like to die horribly this minute,
I want to feel my tongue blister,
my eosophegus dissolve, my stomach liquify.
If it’s not too inconvenient for you, I wish to die.
You’ll find the stuff at the front of the middle shelf
in the cupboard beside the kettle
near the coffee, sugar and tea.
please, would you kindly
hand it to me.”
Or it could be
a particularly strong disinfectant
with itching fingers that reach around the bend,
eradicating every last evil, clawing germ,
and, without prejudice,
murdering the angelic ones as well,
removing the immune system,
rendering the it unable to protect itself
with its natural defenses
Perhaps it’s paint stripper,
melting the multicoloured layers away,
exposing the ancient timber,
threading its viscous way into the fibres,
perverting its natural state.
According to a dictionary definition:
Vitriol is a sulphate of any of various metals,
especially a glassy hydrate of such metals
or something felt to resemble vitriol,
especially a caustic quality;
especially virulence of feeling or speech
so there you have it.
It’s not disinfectant, but
we humans should avoid flinging it at each other,
or swallowing any that is flung our way.
©Jane Paterson Basil