“Alchemy” by Jane Yeh

If it could be done, I’d do it
In an instant. I’ve got the charts,
The mortar and pestle, the fullest
Array of flasks that side of Rome.
My walls are papered with symbols,
and the biggest
Is gold. There’s a cabinet full
Of rejects: salt and cow hair,
Rye harvested under a full moon and
Magnesium and saints’ spit. I could
show you
Calculation, the reams of vellum in
my closet, enough
Ink for ten octopi. Instead I promise
you piles of gold,
Shining heaps higher than
Your bed, weighing more
Than the both of us.

At night I sit alone, poring
Over books in older tongues; none
Of the words are in my dictionary.
Signs stare down at me – calcium,
Silver, lead – mean as Chinese, like a
When I fall asleep I dream the
And planets sweep me up, wrap me
In their dark mesh bed and I can’t
To read any more. But I wake to
The jars of cow parts, the cup and
Waiting to measure, and the open
mouths of flasks
That say You will still be hungry
When you are full.


Walter Crane, “The Stranger Appearing to Midas”

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7 Responses to “Alchemy” by Jane Yeh

  1. herongrace says:

    With a group pf people last night discussing this gold mining place where we live now. Also fragments of memories of very old days when we possibly mined gold here. Extremely ancient artifacts have been found around here. A great great grandmother first white woman born in a gold mining town.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amy Campion says:

    “…You will still be hungry
    When you are full.”
    This concept has been on my mind a lot recently, the idea of satisfaction, satiety. What “enough” means, how to recognise it, how to achieve it, how accept when it is present – when to strive and when to surrender. Understanding this seems to me to be more the meaning of life than happiness (or the quest thereof), or of penance for some original sin, or even of achieving enlightenment at the expense of our more basic humanly needs and desires. I am still contemplating this, but as usual your own words have added greatly to my personal quest. With much gratitude dear Monica.
    (ps – I wrote a little of my own musings (and somewhat of a confessional!) here, in case you are interested!: https://thedreamwell.com/2016/03/23/what-does-my-dream-mean-seeking-satisfactory-answers/)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Amy,
      I have read it with great interest and wondered how I had missed it. When so many planets are in Taurus, as it is right now (along with Mercury retrograde there), I think it is natural that our thoughts wonder into thinking about what wealth truly is, how much is enough, etc. Basic needs, as you call them, also come to the forefront, I guess.
      Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. It was precious to get to know you a little better.
      With love


  3. Jeff Japp says:

    Hey Monika. Very Faustian, especially the ending. That constant searching for contentment that is ever just out of reach. No matter what we attain, we are always looking for more. The quest for knowledge is almost an addiction. And what is addiction? The constant search for something outside that changes how we feel within.


    Liked by 1 person

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