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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 3, September 2017
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Tim Gardiner
Manningtree, Essex, UK


All Around the Wrekin

It's been twenty years since she placed the curse on me; finally I'm back where it began. Still hungover from last night’s manic excesses, I begin my journey in persistent rain. Through the tunnel of beech trees, glow-worms light the path upwards, the sound of raindrops on the leaves above, amplified. I hear the coarse crack of wood and turn around startled.

a pair of eyes
in the darkness
the quiet vixen
doesn't reveal her secrets
this evening

Past the halfway house the hillside opens up, woodland thinning out with each stride. The rain has eased off, the clouds clearing to reveal a full moon. I'm panting heavily from the exertion, long hairs glistening with sweat. Catching my breath, I look around to see how the country of my youth has changed. No longer the black lanes or woods; the glare of the town swallows all darkness.

galloping through
bilberry and heather
the distance between
hell and heaven's gate
just a few bounds

As I keep to the cover of the pines, my snorting breath rises through the needles; the transformation is nearly complete once more. Reaching the transmitter station with its pulsating beacon, I leap through the air onto the summit rock. Landing on all fours, I howl until my love comes to end this curse, loaded pistol in her pocket.

finger shaking
on the trigger
at last
your silver bullet
lodges in my heart


Author's Note: The Wrekin is a hill in Shropshire, England. Its name is probably taken from the Celtic word Wrikon. A transmitting station with a flashing red beacon on top of the main mast (known as the Wrekin Beacon) is situated on the summit. The phrase "All Around the Wrekin" is often used in Shropshire to mean taking "the long way round."

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