~Donald (Grady) Davidson
“Press out an opiate juice
From berries culled in prick of June-time heat;
Pound nettles in a cruse
Of crimson sard till mixing is complete;
And strain the brew through bags of sarcenet,
Mumbling the runes that crazed Sir Dagonet.”
So spoke the slobbering witch,
Wagging her shaky head incessantly;
Then, with an agile twitch
Stove oddly crackling through the briery.
I caught the swish of her broomstick up to the moon,
And her tattered skirt afloat like a black balloon.
Old Witch, whither art gone?
Hopped off to the well like Chick-o’-my-Craney-Crow?
Here’s work for thy dudgeon,
A brew and a bake for a devilish calico!
What’s but a kettle ready for mad ferment,
Black mouth a-grin at me, the innocent!
I pressed and pounded duly,
And sat to watch the slop at bubble slow;
Fed coals with knots unruly
Of thornbush boles till pot-legs stood aglow.
And thrice the pot gave forth a piggish grunt,
And thrice a bellowing as of hounds on hunt.
A great red swine sprang out,
With bristling gleams as bright as Freyr’s boar;
Then, at his grubbing snout,
Two black dogs leaped, two white-fanged lusts for gore.
They three made hideous noise through brush and dew—
Trembling I stooped and strained the mulling brew.
And there was born a girl
Within a sudden mist wizardry,
And came some faint pipes’ thirl,
While she danced, with lips turned sly, and beckoned me,
And we danced mad till night’s low-burning wick
Snuffed out, hearing like us the Old Hag’s stick.
Picture found here.