©Sally Arnold

An Ode to Gin & Tonic

During my angst ridden teenage years I had secret fantasies of becoming a poet when I grew up. I wrote a lot of teenage angst ridden poems, mostly scribbled on my bedroom wall. Fortunately I have no embarrassingly incriminating copies of those somewhat dubious masterpieces. Sometimes of late, on a long car rides, I have been known to compose a smutty limerick. Funny at the time, but quickly forgotten.

Last night as I was fixing myself a Dirty Gin and Tonic*, It crossed my mind that the more classic drink deserved an ode. Herewith, my first poetic attempt since high school. I won’t, as yet, give up my day job.

*G & T with a splash of olive juice (An excellent addition to the regular lime).

An Ode to Gin & Tonic

A spirited affair I have with thee,
Oh sapphire one,
My blue ruin.
Your botanicals sublime,
You taste of Empire,
And, of its decline.
No other has such happy chemistry,
So simple, yet such complexity.
A melancholy trail of broken hearts,
You exceed the sum of all your parts.
Tonic bursting at the seams,
Your effervesce furiously interrupts my dreams.
Ephemeral scents of fresh cut limes,
Tease me of summer’s grass and Christmas pines.
Add clinking ice cubes, fresh and pure,
As one, subversive and demure.
You sooth and you tantalise,
A supernatural entity in disguise?

On long dog days in tropic realms,
You pick me up and cool me down.
You’re in command, you’re at the helm.
By appointment, to the Crown.
My anti-malarial of choice,
Your potency a falsely claim.
When monsoons threaten,
I rejoice,
To have you by my side again.
Oh G & T, I’ll be your bride,
And you in turn, shall be my guide.
Your charms inverse the charmless,
And the badly dressed,
Gin and tonic googles…
Yet, I digress.

Your story, steeped in history,
Of exploration. Danger. Mystery.
‘Dutch courage’, as they used to say,
Gave empire builders supremacy.
Juniper and Fever Tree,
Defile my lips with profanity.
Are you profane, or are you sacred?
Your bitterness,
Infinitely sophisticated.
You sooth my world and my senses.
You compensate, give me recompenses.

Your ratios require great care,
Imbalance foretells an end to this affair.
Cautious to celebrate, yet not diminish,
Your parallel worlds that I doth cherish.
This non negotiable relation,
Of the mix in your creation,
Both of balance, and of proportion
The wise indeed will heed the caution.
Blasphemy? Depravity?
It’s such a bitter Alchemy.

You allure and you inspire.
Delight, beguile my heart’s desire.
You are magic, you empower,
You bewitch the cocktail hour.
And so I raise a glass of thee,
For in thy depths, a reflection of me.


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