David Lewis Paget
The Shadow Of Elspeth Brown - Poem by David Lewis Paget
The sky was grey on that fateful day,
The sun was going down,
I made my way through a field of hay
To the cottage of Elspeth Brown.
She lived alone by the forest there
And studied her ancient tomes,
Her Grimoires, Necronomicons,
And her hearth was filled with bones!
I'd loved the girl for a year or two
And I'd made my interest known,
She was torn, she said, by the spells in her head,
She needed to be alone.
I knew she was seeing another guy
He called when I wasn't around,
‘He's more like the shade of a ghost, ' she said,
‘I raised him, out of the ground! '
She looked distraught as she waved me in,
Her hair was a tangled mess,
A book that featured some ugly Djin
Lay open across her dress.
I've never been one for the ancient arts
Of Magick, or spells and glooms,
But Elspeth wanted to play her part,
Cast spells in the afternoons!
I saw a copy of Crowley there,
A copy of Dragon Noir,
The Grimoire of Honorius
Was scattered across a chair!
‘What horrible Djin have you raised up
From the terrible realm of hell? '
I laughed, but Elspeth began to frown
And conjured another spell!
‘Three bat-wings and a gouty toad
And a strand of a maiden's hair,
A philtre of deadly nightshade stirred
With the leg of a wooden chair!
A third of a pint of hemlock, gathered
Close to the midnight hour…'
The sun was gone and the bright moon shone
Through the door of my lady's bower!
I thought to say it was nonsense,
Raised my eyes and stared in the gloom,
And there was her patient shadow cast
On the whitewashed wall of the room,
A shadow hand ran up through the hair
So tangled, under her cap,
I looked again at my erstwhile friend,
Her hands were down in her lap!
I felt the hairs on the back of my neck
Rise up, and a breathless chill,
The shadow had suddenly straightened up
My heart was standing still,
Two horns curled out of the shadow's head
Distinct on the further wall,
When Elspeth suddenly screamed, and said:
‘My skin's beginning to crawl! '
She spilled the book on the oaken floor,
Jumped up and looked at the wall,
The shadow that she had claimed for her own
Was suddenly eight feet tall,
It raised its hands in a threatening way
Against all physical laws,
I went to say, in a blank dismay:
‘Those fingers look like claws! '
We rushed together, out of the door,
Her screaming, me in fright,
The moon was rising, up in the sky,
You couldn't tell day from night,
The shadow followed, hard on our heels
And spread out over the ground,
I noticed it wasn't attached to her feet,
But followed with never a sound!
It moved around, ran by her side,
And then I saw it ahead,
She stopped in horror, whatever she'd done,
She'd summoned a Djin from the dead!
‘You'll have to set up an undo spell, '
I knew that she was to blame,
‘I can't, ' she muttered, ‘I don't know how,
He was here before you came! '
She wandered back to the cottage at last,
‘It's only a shadow, ' she said,
‘I shouldn't be worried, it won't hurt me! '
I turned on my heel, and fled!
I'm such a coward with magical things,
I ran full pelt all the way,
Then lay in dread, hid under my bed
‘Til the sun came up, next day!
I finally plucked the courage up
To return to the cottage there,
I stood in the yard, and called on out:
‘Elspeth - come out if you dare! '
A shadow stood in the hallway
And my heart, it turned to stone,
As I read the note on the lintel post,
‘I want to be left alone! '
The sun was high in the morning sky
As I looked on down at my feet,
There wasn't a sign of a shadow there,
My heart then skipped a beat,
For there on the inner whitewashed wall
And beyond the hallway Djin,
I could see two shadows, making love,
But I hadn't the nerve to go in!
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