Seducing the Crone

by Katharine Mills

open the door and
let you in
out of the cold fall night, the
haunted moon winking
at me over your shoulder

lean and rumpled you look
as though you sleep in hedges
your face is a fine and
sculpted bone
I want it
for my shelves

true, I've pushed the jars of
cured toads to the
back of the cupboard
and brushed the cats
but your cool bravado still
makes me smile (hiding
my teeth behind my hand) -- do you
like my dress? I spun it myself,
out of dark and starshine

too late, I see how it is
you distract me with your
shaping hands, spinning charms
in words. I'm caught out,
too old and slow under my shifter's
guise, cold earth-witch outmatched
by your airy puzzle-mind

netted in your chrysanthemum
eyes. I want them.

you carve me up bloodlessly, searching;
don't you know
I've only a smooth stone there?
at your waist I see a bag
in passing, as I
change from hag to serpent
in your arms -- ah!
wizard, what have you done?
you're laughing in my coils, triumphant

oh, clever hands, clever voice,
I want them

yet you hesitate, why? in our
shed skins your bag spills fur and feathers
with the fox's mask in my hands, now
I see the price you've paid for
gramarie -- I've still a snake's tail, winding
round your narrow hips
(I want them)

oh, put on your shabby robes,
open the door -- light shafting
into odorous corners, the
sun spangling frost in the hedges -- I'll throw
the red pelt over you -- run,
foxling, run.

Katharine Mills writes even more poems these days since she started sleeping under a skylight. She's been addicted to words since earliest childhood; the poetry is only a side effect.

Her favorite fruit is the strawberry, under certain circumstances.

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