Sammy Weaver’s poem, ‘Familiar Spirit’, is a visceral and spellbinding response to Rebecca Tamás’ collection of poems, WITCH.
Written in response to Rebecca Tamás’ first full-length book of poems, WITCH (Penned in the Margins), a book I read on summer nights, in darkness, at the sides of roads whilst travelling around the UK. One night whilst reading WITCH, I heard a tawny owl calling out on the riverbank. I neared it and sat listening for hours in the dark. One familiar spirit leads to another.
call it a book you look into as if it were a cauldron
which is to say it is a deep well
into which knotted rope is descended
like a finger with a thick knuckle
moving into the body’s crevice of red hot silk
call it a pyre or a pile of ashes
and bones left at the crossroads
for the passerby on their way to market
to contemplate darkness
call it a song that rolls along your tongue
call it a craft call it magic this paper
and ink that warps and weaves lines
to link you by gut and labia
to the histories of semen and glossy secretions
to the histories of screams and flame —
O cauterised soul what man made you
laundry in a clean-sweet-smelling bowl?
take this medicine cold girl
little womandrake the shape
of a baby with the beginnings of legs
a high-pitched yelp when pulled from the dry soil
brought many into this world
and what world heard the owl
keeping time on the riverbank
and the woman drawn to it like a mother
and decided it was dangerous yes —
love is dangerous
curing all it passes out of
a red ribbon unravels out of
a gibbous womb
drips onto mud
have you had enough?
the separation of animal and spirit so long now —
take this talisman this craft
this cauldron this amulet
take it to the water and look at your reflection
false-widowed and shaking
About Sammy Weaver
Sammy Weaver is a poet on the Creative Writing MA at Manchester Metropolitan University. Having recently moved onto a narrowboat, she is working on a series of poems for the Rochdale canal. She won the Rosamond Prize for best poetic-musical collaboration in 2019. Follow Sammy via Twitter @SammyWeaverPoem
This poem was commissioned under our new theme Night / Shift
For Night / Shift, we at Lucy Writers want to close our eyes to the rituals of the day and open them wide to the possibilities, sites, moves, sounds and forms visible only by night. Using Leonora Carrington’s work (see image above) as an entrance into this broad theme, we welcome writing – reviews, features, essays, creative non-fiction, (flash) fiction, poetry – and art work that explores night and its multiple shifts, liberating and otherwise, for womxn in particular.
Is night, as Carrington suggests, a feminine and feminist zone in itself, one which subverts daily codifications and rethinks day’s conditions? Or is night – also known as Nyx in Greek mythology, the maternal goddess of death, darkness, strife and sleep – still a period of discord, a stretch of time that threatens as much as it frees? For more information, see our Submissions & Contact page.
Feature image: Leonora Carrington’s And Then We Saw the Daughter of the Minotaur (1953), The Museum of Modern Art.