General Poetry posted February 12, 2018


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A Burning Desire

Bess

by tfawcus


The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.
The author has placed a warning on this post for sexual content.
Drowned moon, a dapple in the shallow mere
dispersed in swirling waves of vetchling grass,
as too the face of Bess, reflected there
and mocked among the weeds of this morass

where will-o-wisps mislead with eerie light,
where shadows merge at dusk with rising mist,
and blush of sea thrift pink is turned to white
as, chilled, she stumbles on to keep her tryst.

She hears ahead a groan of rusted iron
as on its hinges swings the kissing gate.
Beneath the glinting dagger of Orion
there stands the Essex lad who holds her fate.

He takes her in his arms, into the byre
where soon she lies spreadeagled, cruciform.
His whispered words of lust ignite her fire,
till ecstasy lights flames to keep her warm.

While in the Borrowdyke that lies beyond,
faint ripples break the surface of the night
as marsh frogs chortle softly in the pond,
locked in amplexus, each to each gripped tight.

As Bess and Ashe perform their puppet play,
they squirm, as do these frogs in seep and slime,
while Freyr pulls the strings of their affray
until they lose the very sense of time,

and in the shoreless firmament above
the changeling star of Betelgeuse looks on,
a silent witness to their dance of love
until the clouds are drawn and he is gone.

And did the red star frown when he gazed down
and did he think that love like this was wrong,
as did the men from nearby Chelmsford town
who burnt poor Bess before a gawking throng?


Love Poem Poetry Contest contest entry

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Grass Vetchling is a wildflower found growing in the Essex marshlands where, behind the sea wall there is often a brackish pond, known as the Borrowdyke.

A Kissing Gate is a small gate, used instead of a stile at the boundary of a field that swings in a U- or V-shaped enclosure and touches (kisses) each of two gateposts. That hasn't stopped many clinging to the more romantic idea that the first person to pass through would have to close the gate to the next person, providing an opportune moment to demand a kiss in return for entry.

Amplexus is the mating position of frogs and toads, in which the male clasps the female about the back.

Freyr is pictured as a phallic fertility god in Viking mythology. (During the reign of Ethelred the Unready, Viking invaders defeated an Anglo-Saxon army in the Battle of Maldon beside the River Blackwater in Essex).

Betelgeuse is a star in the Orion constellation. Its red color indicates a star well into the autumn of its years. Orion (known as Orwandil) was an important constellation in the Scandinavian mythology.

Chelmsford is the county town of Essex, not far from the tidal marshes to the north of the Thames estuary.

To gawk is to stare or gape open-mouthed, stupidly. The word is of Scandinavian origin.

Part of the inspiration for this fictitious tale is the first witch trial held in a secular court in Chelmsford, in 1566. The suspected witch, Elizabeth Frances, confessed to using a cat called Satan to harm a number of people. One of the charges against her was that "she desired to have one Andrew Byles to her husband, which was a man of some wealth, and the cat did promise she should, but that he said she must first consent that this Andrew could abuse her, and so she did.
And after when this Andrew had thus abused her he would not marry her, wherefore she willed Satan to waste his goods, which he forthwith did, and yet not being contented with this, she willed him to touch his body, which he forthwith did wherefore he died". She was found guilty and hanged. The common perception is that witches were sentenced to death by burning, but hanging was in fact more common in England. However, as I have said, this is a work of fiction!
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