Wymondam’s Witches

Wymondam’s Witches

In sixteen hundred and one,
Old Beth, The Hag of Wymondam
Sayeth that most witches are frozen,
Not burned to death

Cosmic cold,
Two hours to dawn,
When night and day were both asleep,
Eleanora Huss was born
On a bed without a sheet.

Unloved then
And unloved now
She plods the streets but never speaks,
She’s old and slow, her body bowed,
Her tongue more silent than her feet.

But it was far from always thus
For little Eleanora Huss.
Once at parties, fetes and dances
She attracted young mens’ glances,
While older men made quite a fuss
Of pretty Eleanora Huss.

When invitations came on cards
And parasols meant promenades,
She was adored by all who saw her
And one was deemed to be the poorer
For never knowing Eleanora.

In ribboned summers
Gently frocked in pinks and blues
And lightly shod in buttoned shoes,
With every step
Her curves caressed
The inside of her underdress.

Those were the days,
The days that when
As Eleanora Huss passed by,
Little boys would heave a sigh
And think about becoming men.

Ladyparasol2

Even then she did not speak
But smiled a smile
That caught the eye
And turned the heads of most men,
Made strong men weak,
Weak men weep
And poets out of postmen.

Ladyparasol1

Then as now a gipsy girl
Who’s rich in charm
Is offered much by all around,
But Eleanora Huss soon found
That rich men young
Or in their dotage
Never marriage lines unfurl,
And even unprosperous poets
Pounding-out-rhythms
And -pensively-penning-iambic-pentameters,
Seldom-proposed-to-a-penniless-girl.

Youth’s a state that soon decays,
It seeps and then it flows away.
There’s nothing that can stem the tide,
Nothing wrinkled features hide,
And cruel Time left Eleanor
With nothing but her sanity
And gentle unassuming pride;
And it was Eleanora’s fate
That in old age,
Relentless Time
Even these would confiscate.

And so tonight in Wymondam still,
In the tower of Wymondam church
Bats disturb the dusty air
While in the graveyard’s midnight hour
A tawny owl devours a vole.

And behind the church
Beyond the trees,
In the cottage by the hedge,
Old Miss Huss lets out her cat
And prepares herself for bed.

Old Miss Huss,
Forlorn and scorned,
Stiffly unringed fingers creak,
A witch without a witch’s power,
An ancient hag who never speaks.
Sick and old,
Her reason gone,
Her old wan body numbed with sleep
Wrapped in threadbare blanket torn,
On a bed without a sheet.

DG