Friday, June 22, 2018
Summer Poetry Pop-Up: Judith McCombs
Chief M’Comie Mor and the Kelpies
Kelpies are the shape-shifting water spirits of Scotland’s rivers. They take the forms of beautiful horses and hairy, water-weedy humans. Kelpies lure people out to drown them.
Glenshee, Perthshire, 1600s
There came a wailing at the door
That night of roaring wind.
O save my man, M’Comie Mor!
M’Comie, let me in.
The flood has swept my good man down,
Shee River runs so high.
There’s none but you can save him now,
O help or he will die.
Shee Water leaps like a wild, wild steed
There’s none but you can tame.
O leave your sleep and come with me
If M’Comie be your name.
The stars were dim, the moon was banned,
He probed the shifting mud
And waded out, his staff in hand,
To brave that raging flood.
A cry he heard, then saw a face
Rise like a thing half-drowned.
The Chief stood braced to pull it safe--
But it reared to stamp him down.
It was no man, but a kelpie-steed
Who carries off mere men.
He hurled his staff at the creature’s head
As the kelpie dove again.
Then the kelpie’s wife struck M’Comie’s side
With her flailing water-weeds--
In the pounding rain he hurled him free
While she joined her wave-born steed.
Innisfree Poetry Journal; rpt. Clach of Clan MacThomas
Judith McCombs grew up nomadic, in a geodetic surveyor’s family. Her poems appear in Delmarva, Potomac & Saranac Reviews, Innisfree, Nimrod (Neruda Award), Poetry, Shenandoah (Graybeal-Gowen Prize); and The Habit of Fire: Poems Selected & New. She is active in Word WorksDC, Federal Poets; and arranges the Kensington Row Bookshop’s Poetry Readings.