WHEN WE FLEW WITH KIRSTI THROUGH THE AIR
there were maybe forty women
but also two men, at least.
We became dogs, cats, hares,
ears-a-quiver as we rode the thermals.
The hair on the backs of the dogs bristled.
The fur on the napes of the cats.
Hares bounded from cloud to cloud.
To the sabbath of Satan,
there were eiders in our number, quacking,
and skuas that pierced the waves for fish.
Sea-monsters too, ones with tusks,
the ones that honk,
and the sea-swine, and the polypus.
More than forty, then, from villages
lining the coast of Finnmark.
Yes, it was us that raised the great storm.
Us who spooked the nets that night,
jinxed the anchors.
When our husbands, fathers, brothers were drowning,
we engaged in dancing and sexual intercourse
with a variety of demons.
I can tell you about some of them.
Note: Some of these details were offered in evidence in the Vardo witch-trials in the north of Norway in 1621.
"Kirsti" was, according to several defendants, the leader of the Vardo coven.
INSTEAD OF A TEAPOT, RENGETSU MAKES A HARE
Deer pick their way down the path
that is turning golden.
Monkeys too, frisky as children,
bickering over fruit.
Birds of many kinds perch near,
the splendid and the humble,
variously plumed and voiced
but it's the hare that came last week
that I try to shape.
I've met hares with longer ears,
hares with longer legs, upright, tense,
but this hare caught me-
the tilt of the head,
the facial expression,
as if asking a question
(“The carnivores of Madagascar are not easily classified.”)
Nimble, bushy, musky,
spotted or striped,
thin-faced or thick-bodied.
Some are snail-snappers, feeders on larvae;
others, eaters of beetles, birds' eggs.
The Malagasy civet,
also known as the fanaloka,
is not to be confused with the falanouc
though both belong to the same family.
And though its Latin name is Fossa fossa,
it is not to be mistaken for the fossa,
the Cryptoprocta ferox,
also native to Madagascar
and another relation.
And it used to belong with the banded palm civets
but no longer.
These faux mongoose, not-quite cats,
patrol the undergrowth,
prowl and slink through scrub,
through spiny forest,
are throwbacks, one-offs.
And because they feed,
when they need to,
on the ancestors,
they are fady, must not be touched.
parish records speak of them.
emerged into light in 1791,
was ground into mummy,
medicine to treat the ailments
of the living of Kibbelgaarn.
Rieper Moor Body no longer exists
but his, or her, clothes do.
When they happened upon
Uphuser Klumoor Woman,
she was wearing bronze brooches.
Her hair was plaited.
In her hand, she held a pot.
finished what was left
of Pangerfilze Man.
Copyright © Sheila Hamilton 2017
This is Sheila Hamilton's fourth appearance in Molly Bloom. Her new collection The Spirit Vaults is now available from Green Bottle Press.