The woodcutter.

In her sunless storey, amid the untracked snow,
Marion sat among the earthenware
And let her hairless scalp to sink down low
Beneath each heavy and occulted care,
Foremost of which, just like the keenest nail:
The dried up wellhead of posterity.
Then from the door she heard a plaintive wail
And rushed with outstretched arms to turn the key;
A haughty wire of icy fur stalked by
And Marion stood in the pale wasteland
When a boy emerged from the glittering rye,
With three silver logs in his pearl-cold hand,
And hair that was moss-dark with woody rain.
He paused before her doorstep but a stone
Was in her mouth and she just stared inane.
He placed a branch in her hand and was gone.
She ran inside the house, clutching her gift
Which brought forth scandent tongues of green and red
And, warmed, she felt her dark depression lift.
He passed again, before she went to bed -
The boy! She rushed, a mound of coat and scarves
And followed - stooped in case he saw her there -
Out into the black wet garden of stars
Where mad Echo danced and peopled the air
With the impenetrable songs she sung.
He led her deep into the mustard wood
Dripping with strange snow, where grey spiders strung
Their bright webs underneath each leaf's dark hood,
Swelling. They piled their captives in a heap.
The ash trees joined skeletal fingertips
And rocked the drenched rooks silently to sleep
There was a smile on the woodcutter's lips
Standing amid the moths with lambent wings.
They foundered in the freezing snow; she saw
A feathered dream of long-forgotten things
And all the wealth that they thereafter bore.
And when she woke and raised her freckled head
In the hard light she saw the boy was dead.


FIRE 24, p 114; Laura Seymour