Metamorphosis TWENTY SIX

Posted on 27th May, 2019

DAY 26


For Serena in a Catsuit : Gillian Mellor


All Queens dress for the court.

They have every move analysed,

must feel at ease in their own skin.


All Queens hand their newborns over

when they return from maternity leave,

their bodies fresh from children carry additional scrutiny.


There is pressure to perform each summer 

on the green grass in the white uniform.

There is beauty in a body the shape of hard work -


each curve decoded from genes into being.

When the mindset joins forces with the body

there is a need for power to be checked, 


kept within the lines of closed minds.

It is thought Queens never run fast enough.

They know that no one runs faster.





The Hare : Susan Cartwright Smith


“Tell me again, about the hare,” I said.

I was aware that our walk was slower-paced than normal, and Dad was struggling to breathe. 

“Why don’t we sit awhile then?” he said, and walked deliberately to a bench. I looked around, disgusted at how tame the woods were now. Gone was the wilderness of my youth. Here instead was a beast brought to heel; the council paths laid through the woods, ostensibly to encourage family walks, but in reality to provide a place for thoughtless people to conveniently empty their dogs. Dad got his breath, and surveyed the field in front. 

“These fields were once part of the Wild Wood,” he said.

“I know.”

I remembered being gripped with thrilling terror at being lost forever in the woods, the merry mix of oak, birch, beech, thorn, holly and ash, with occasional rowans and elder marking the way. The paths hadn’t then subdued the forest floor, and as children we would return home after an entire day away, scratched from brambles, stung from nettles, and bruised and scraped from climbing trees. 

“The Wild Wood is a magical place. Witches would come to gather plants, to meet, to swap knowledge. The magical animals ran free; their homes were safe.” 

Having never so much as glimpsed an adder in a wood supposedly renowned for them, I said nothing.

“And where you find witches, you will always find people who speak ill of them,” he said, giving me a glance. “And so it was with one young witch. Young, for the time, and pretty. She spurned many men’s advances, but welcomed almost as many. And people didn’t like her free ways, fettered by yokes of their own making. 

When the Witchfinder came, he did not have to look far. People led him there, in case he found them. At first the Witchfinder offered her freedom, in return for certain favours, but the witch spat at his feet and laughed in his face. He struck her down, and told her to pray for her immortal soul. While the crowds gathered in the town square, thankful that the noose was not for them, the arrogant old fool hunted this wood. This Wild Wood. Careless of the natural way of things, he let his hounds roam free, worrying the nesting birds, terrifying the small creatures of the woods, and fouling the paths. The fat old fool rode his horse through the Wild Wood, the iron-shod feet gouging furrows in the land.

A hare, fearful of its form being discovered, darted out of the meadow. The hounds took scent, and gave chase. The hare was leading them away from the leverets and its future. At the same time the witch was being led up to the scaffold - hanging being more popular than burning in this area. Not that many witches were hanged - until a Witchfinder found them.

As she stood with the noose around her neck, she stared into the distance. As the block was kicked away from under her, the hare did one of its mighty leaps, to throw the scent. The witch hovered in the air, the noose still lying about her neck, and the dogs, in their rampant confusion, stumbled, turning back, snarling the hooves of the horse.

The Witchfinder was thrown, and as his horse slid and stumbled on the half-buried tree roots, his spine broke on impact with the questing  fingers of the tree, and his head was smashed in by an iron-clad hoof flailing. The horse and hounds, confused and terrified, ran off into the Wild Wood.

The hare loped back to the Witchfinder. The last thing he saw was the face of the witch, smiling. He wasn’t found until the Wild Wood had reclaimed at least the top layer of him.”

Dad chuckled grimly.

“And what of the witch?”

“As the witchfinder’s back broke, so a terrific clap of thunder sent the superstitious fools scurrying from the town square. No-one remained to see a slut die, not if they could save their own stupid skin. So no-one knows”

Sometimes I couldn’t weigh Dad up. And he was deliberately unreadable at times. As I held a hand out to pull him up, a lean hare sat proud in the field, inclined its head to us, then, with an enormous sideways leap, set off back into the meadow, satisfied that a story had been told well. 

“There’ll be lots of hazelnuts next year, Dad,” I said, as we walked back. “We’ll have to come and forage.”

“Aye,” he said stiffly. “You will.”



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