Saturday, October 29, 2022

The Howl


The Howl
Deep into the night-abiding trees let free the howl
of my heart(that false doppelgänger, that unreliable narrator.)
Course it there, where darkness shakes down her hair,
fleet where the small hands of rain stroke my cheek
lightly,lightly, not so bitter as kisses, not so salt as tears,
til it comes to a stopping.
There's a fire panting to light up the hedgerows,
to make wilder things writhe from shadows bending,
those fetches the old gods make to beguile us dappling the void
the new ones provide, movement alone frantic with silence
save for crackle and spit and the skin drum's thud
that still beats in my wrist.
Each day dawns with feet cut off, limping,limping,
in the year-turning dark. Willow-wisps glow
in the grove of dancing,coming to draw the light
from the road, off to the flicker where worlds rub skins, 
to flames and fetches, to what's kindling now
where heartwood was riven, heat banked in
each unlit log is given to the season of time burning,
of leaves crumbling and forest dreaming the hand I'm holding, 
dreaming and singing in the sough where rain-wind 
ears the night. Can a child born to houses ever discern it
where all that runs in smoke and mist is changed
and confounded, rounded off without logic
to fire that howls in my skull
what it won't let me know;
it's my own fetch that's come
to dance in the hedgerow.
October 2022



posted for earthweal's
(and inspired by Brendan's Kindling in the Forest of Light and Shadow
Images: Dancing Dryads, 1879, © Albert Pinkham Ryder  Public Domain
Wolves,(detail)  © Andrew Wyeth   Fair Use


  1. A haunting lyric here, Hedgewitch. I am looking forward to your challenge next week. Hopefully I will find time to participate...

  2. Sometimes it seems like its always "my own fetch" because as you propose early on the possibility of misunderstanding, or mis-narrating: "my heart(that false doppelgänger, that unreliable narrator.)." But the images are too vivid to be completely false. We nestle in half truths, and I am compelled to try and try to read them. It feels like a hard sentence to forever wish for clarity that evades us, and yet, I know we are called on to show what we see, hoping that our piece of the puzle will find its way home.

  3. This is dark-minded and -sighted as the Wendell Berry poem "To Know The Dark" in the earthweal challenge, a firewolf of verse "... panting to light up the hedgerows, / to make wilder things writhe from shadows bending." It provides dark harbor for ink and finds a way to envigorate the "crackle and spit and the skin drum's thud / that still beats in my wrist." Good question too in the penultimate stanza, answered by the wolf within (I assume that's what is "fetched." Writing like this demands dark sense & daring and you went and grabbed it by the throat. Ahem and amen.

  4. Such a wildness here and one that will not be tamed I suspect, no matter what, Born to houses we are perhaps not meant to even try. Let the wild be the wild and let this invocation honour it as such.

  5. Lost my whole long comment somehow, so let me try to recapture. I love that you call the heart a false doppelganger and unreliable narrator, because of course it is both, but without it the journey would be a dry one indeed. "Each day dawns with feet cut off" begins an amazing stanza--powerful, awful, and my favorite here. A kind of dancing--perhaps more primal and real, or perhaps attenuated--arrives in your closing lines. This poem is chock full of hedgewitchian magic.

  6. Wow. Amazing writing with too many lines to quote. So glad you wrote it, and i got to read it.

  7. this makes me think of something, of the relation between old gods and new, and the distance (and nearness) of them to we puny bipeds. hmmm. perhaps the muse is peeking thru that howl. hmm.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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