(inspired by the novels of Susan Fletcher, as well as my own experiences)
You comb your hair with thistles and drink at the burn
while the snow-hare is running. The witch appears
as trees do from mist, offers you a warm egg and
a hearth. She is half-here as a damselfly, threadbare
as the skittering clouds. Take the moths from her hair,
and the spiders; lay them gently in alder, to winter.
After the snowmelt runs and the bog softens, squelching
up to the softest skin between the toes, you will stroke,
for a summer moment, the living antlers of a pool-eyed
young stag, and feel them warm and furred. Lice dance
on them, black as the snake-sized benign slugs who
seep out of the bracken at night, while you, naked,
walk into a water-moon. You, glaistrig, green woman
who hears insect wings and washes in waterfalls,
will hold herbs and the young deer will leave a warm
lick on your hand, barter for the fistful of watermint.
Here is the Highland fist of tongue-rough, tongue-smooth
rock. Each stone a fingerprint, a map of whorls like
those rippling on a wild goat's pelt, spelled out in all
colours of moss and time, and each rock, stone, goat
and moss a solace. You remember the living touch
of a long-ago cat, ash coloured and softer than antlers;
you feel the sombre power of mountains. You shift
your feet, toes curling into turf, and cannot say goodbye.
When you drink from that burn and wash off your
weeping, as the hare runs, you will lift your face
and in your hair will be a crown of weed and the
coin of a water-snail, grey as your rain-eyes.
This was published on the Liz Ferrets Facebook page after I was runner-up in the competition.
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