Malediction copyright Sara Russell 24/2/97

He stood alone in a ground mist of silver white
lit by the moon, a darkly imposing sight
with black hair, shadowed eyes, lips taut as wire
and over his outstretched hands floated white fire.

He said:

''Let this dark night and all it brings
lend my voice the power of black wings,
to fly to the bedchamber where lies the one
who must pay dearly before this night is done.''

''Listen well, the lost beyond the grave,
hear me, spirit prince and demon knave,
hear me, all the drowned beneath the sea,
stalk her dreams and never let her be!"

So it happened, two score miles away,
in a dark chamber, a restless sleeper lay.
Shadows jumped and flickered in the gloom,
the air became the breath of an open tomb,

Hands rose from the floor as from the sea,
the womans lips, in sleep, mouthed a silent plea;
ivy poured in at the window, serpentine,
writhing and growing, fast as flowing wine.

A gnarled tree branch tapped at the window pane,
like a dead man's fist, knocking in vain,
the woman's eyelids flickered as she turned
and in her dreams came the face of a lover spurned...

A lover spurned, whom, once, she loved so well,
walking with all the hounds and sprites of hell!
Ever closer, thousands of staring eyes!
And rictus smiles and shuddering fetid sighs!

Ever closer, shambling, with scrabbling claws,
ever louder, the snap of slavering jaws!
She turned to run, with feet turned into lead,
her running feet churned the sheets of the bed...

In a backward glance she saw her lost love's face
as full of hate as the demons giving chase;
but there had been other looks, remembered well.
She called his name, half-sobbing: ''Maravel!''

The sorcerer flinched, as if struck where he stood,
her cry had reached him through the misty wood;
a pitiful, infant-wail from somewhere above,
in a voice that, once, had enfolded his name in love,

A voice familiar as a mother's hand.
In a moment unexpected and unplanned,
the voice that was such sweetness to his ears
filled Maravel's eyes with stinging tears.

He fought for concentration, breathing hard,
but the moment of weakness had made him drop his guard.
The woman woke, first trying to wake in vain,
and seeing a room full of demons, woke again,

And woke again: the hands sank into the floor,
and again: the ivy shrank outside once more.
The layers of dream-sleep were cast aside,
She was finally awake, eyes open wide...

''Maravel!'' Hissed her tortured mind.
''Maravel!'' The one she left behind!
''Maravel!'' How came it to seem
that he might steal her love back through a dream?!

This was one too many restless night;
sleepless, she must use this time to fight!
She opened a casket on the bedside chair
and took out some white wax and a lock of hair.

The lock of hair was black as a raven's wing,
it's owner's hands, once, brought her flesh to sing,
trembling with a tactile rhapsody.
She touched it, sighing at the memory.

She softened the wax with a taper lit from the fire,
shaped it into the subject of lost desire,
till Maravel's naked body was fashioned there
- and she crowned it with the lock of raven hair.

In a choked voice, the sorcerer's chant went on,
but now the web of potency was gone;
the intonations weakened by one break,
when bitter memory became keepsake.

Meanwhile the woman took a silver pin,
took the waxen doll and stabbed it in;
into the arm, the shoulders, hard and rough!
Into the parts made less for pain than love...

The forest whispered as the low mist steamed,
the crickets sang, as poor Maravel screamed,
(sending his sparowhawk into the trees
wondering at human lunacies)

The hawk, from a safe vantage-point, looked round,
to see his master writhing on the ground!
Thrashing, yelling, rolling like a coin,
doubling over, clutching at his groin...

...The woman, in her chamber, quietly sat,
smiling purposefully, like a cat,
looked at the fire and wondered, should she not
make things start to get - a little hot?!

She took the doll and met it's waxen stare
and her fingers came to rest on the raven hair,
sliding down it's texture, tenderly-slow
- and she put the doll back down and whispered ''No...''

~ The End ~


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