The Werecat and I – a dream rendered

A shadow fell upon my sheeted crown,
and she whispered, “It is time, my bonny, it is time.”
And when I rose, a linen for cloak,
I stood shoeless on a cobbled road,
squeezed on a Georgian lane,
where tight faces hid behind tight curtains,
dim shadows in gaslight
with green and scurvy eyes.

With her palm light-pressed
at the base of my spine, she urged,
“Walk now, my bonny, it is time.’
And with the first trepid step the street
fell away in a crumble, the facades
shattered as crystal and sharp,
and bunched hills lurched up as strong backs
from a fall, snow dusted, studded
with black pine and all the tangles of wind.

And though I sought to turn and return
to the bed-warmth of my slumber,
there was nothing behind but gray plain,
gray sky, and the gray eye
of she that bade me “Walk, my bonny,
it is time.” She then melted to a lynx, svelte,
plump-furred for winter and steaming –
she melted to a lynx and gamboled
down into the crease, down into cutting
stone, down below bones that crouch
as hills, where stiff creeks hide their prey.

And I followed, I followed as old women gavelled
out plainsong with brooms among tines.
I followed and trembled as snorts and howls
of unseen brethren called my name.
I followed, and each round pebble –
a chittering mark on my pink soft soles,
as I descended down the fleet-pawed path,
bent with the tortures of shoes,
and the pines lengthened as nails pounded
from below, some swift and urgent
hammerstrikes pinning a hard sky.

Her track led deeper, deeper
than the slanted roofless mill
wheel half crushed in ice and misuse.
Her track led deeper, deeper
than the vagrant hamlet where
no smoke from chimneys plumed.
And as the path narrowed, thorn rich
and squalid, I took to my knees
and palms and stretched before the mouth
of her den – fuming of musk and sulphur.
“It is time, my bonny, it is time.”…

Image: Dušan Smetana on Unsplash

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