Monday, 10 September 2012

The Kelpie

The wind was sweeping through my hair, that day.  It swept through my hair, my mane.  It swept up the cliff face, over the sea, driving the great thing to madness.  It tumbled over the goose; it threw the gulls higher and higher into the sky whilst the ravens clung to their trees and laughed at their hapless cousins.

It streamed through her hair, she who would change my life.  It lifted that hair and blew it about her as a flame.  I remember thinking her beautiful, with her fine features and her moody grey eyes.  Fool that I was – that indeed I still am – I only admired her, not knowing my fate was in her long, delicate hands.

No, my only thought was, she’s my next one.  My next love; my next victim.

Brushing a strand of seaweed out of my hair – there was always a bit of the nucence stuff in the unruly mane – I strode over to the girl, confident as only a fool is confident.

She smiled, she laughed in all the right places.  My ways won her over; she agreed in the end to visit my home.

By the goose, up the cliffs she would have to walk, to reach the cottage.  To the lonely white building that stood so close to the sea that, on stormy days, it was threatened to be engulfed.

She would have stumbled in the sands and on the rocks of the cliff face and of the beach.  She would have fought through the fierce winds.

But yet, she did come, her hair a flame around her.

Before she knocked at the door, I had hidden the remains of former loves.  A beautiful necklace; a dark curl; a delicate lace glove.  I hide them all, and more.  She couldn’t know who – what– I was until it was too late.  Marry her, settle her down, then enter again into the sea.

She smiled when I greeted her; she ate my food and drank my ale.  She sat upon the hard earthen floor whilst I lay back into her arms.  It was then that she found out.  As the Fool I had forgotten one important thing.  But she knew.

She pulled her fingers back from my mane.  A piece of seaweed dangled from those long delicate fingers.

I know you, was all she said.  In that moment, her flame hair about her, I loved her.  But I had to do it, it was my nature after all.

And I changed.  I was a kelpie, a monster.

Before my now hooven feet could rend her to pieces, she produced a golden thing from her skirts.  A beautiful thing, really, and threw it across my face, my monster face.

And then?  Well, then I was trapped.  She, wise girl, knew her folklore.  A golden bridle, to catch the sea monster, she had thrown on me.

So there I stand, in the dappled shade of the oak tree that guards the comings and goings of the village green.  Here I stand, a lovely black pony, my mane laying sedately upon my neck with no seaweed within it to speak of

It’s not so bad, being her servant.  I get to stand close to the one I love; I get a warm home and plenty to eat.  And on wild nights, the ones where the winds howl and – out to sea– the other Kelpies cry, it is on those nights that she frees me to run over the waves.

She frees me because she knows.  She knows that, come morning, when the winds have died down and the sun has come from behind the clouds, she knows there’ll be a placid pony grazing in her garden.  She’ll come and pick the seaweed from my mane.  She’ll put  that golden bridle on me and I will follow her, a moth to her flame.