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Writings and Witterings


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Bats in the Forest

Flittermice weave over reeking moonshine
cross-eyed and woozy on rising fumes

chase paper-like moths through the dense night-time
jaws snap     away to roosts the moths to consume

a charge for the moth from a hot light bulb
a scorch     a burned bum     a lucky escape

but echolocation doesn’t see the bat dulled
dinner tonight is in his mouth draped

the reek of the moonshine the rise of vapour
has chemically altered the mammal’s ability

he weaves and he wavers     his wings act as tracers
but the dread-filled moth makes a dart of agility

another lucky escape

The Alchemy of 42 (Black Pear Press, 2020)


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Cailleach Beare

The divine hag drops rocks for stepping-stones.
From Samhain to Beltane she’s the goddess of winter,
at Samhain she’s hideous, blue face, sharp teeth, rank haired bag of bones;
by winter’s end, she’s transformed to a block without splinter;
over time she grows ever younger
until by Beltane she’s a beautiful maiden.
First, her veil drapes, her magic staff turns green to grey,
she carries a hammer for shaping the hills and valleys,
makes a white bridge from Ireland to Scotland,
gathers firewood to last through the season.
Foul weather means she’s asleep.

Locals shelter her in the glens; the glens become fertile and prosperous.
When she leaves, she gives stones with a promise:
‘As long as the stones are put out over the glen at Beltane,
‘back into the shelter and secured for Samhain,
‘then the glen will continue, verdant, potent, plentiful.’

To honour her, wear blue,
cover your altar with a cloth yellow as the sun.
Place a blue candle and a bowl of snow in the centre.
The candle burns, wax shrinks, snows melt,
give way to warmth and light.
Pour water from the snow outside to rejoin the Goddess
and usher in the dark half of the year.

Polly Stretton © 2022

The Alchemy of 42 (Black Pear Press, 2020)

In Gaelic mythology, the Cailleach is a divine hag, an ancestor associated with the creation of the landscape and with the weather, especially storms and winter. She’s also known as Beira, Queen of Winter.