On the Proper Ingestion of Basil

A certain Gentleman of Sienna, being wonderfully taken and delighted with the Smell of Basil, was wont very frequently to take the Powder of the dry Herb, and snuff it up his Nose; but in short Time, he’d turn’d mad and died; and his Head being opened by Surgeons, there was found a Nest of Scorpions in his Brain.

-Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, Institutions Res Herbariae

Under the soggy
Gaze of the Sun King, basil,
Benignly enough,

Remains far too wet
To pulverize and powder:
Pesto seems its fate,

Pine nuts, parmesan,
Its bowl mates – not Sienna’s
Scorpionic state.


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