Whenever you meet her, it’s a surprise,
always, as if you’ve forgotten her presence
in the meantime. She doesn’t mind.
She wears a knitted cap and snow goggles,
a man’s windbreaker and a purple skirt.
Her face is empress-dusky: tan and grime.
Her chess-player’s mouth knows chronicles
of copper groves rife with giant dragonflies,
sacred fields, bonfires, rams’ skulls on poles.
She holds a double axe in her arrogant left hand;
her right arm, under the jacket, is lashed to her waist,
wary of what it might do if left to its own devices.
Right next to her the tiger sits, heraldic goldeneye
of beatitude. All along the dirt road her light
brigade of fairies play their angelic games.
Looking at her, you find it easy to believe
she has travelled here from Babylon, from the bogs
of the boundless Siberian taiga, from Ultima Thule.
No down-and-outer, she. Here’s crystal power,
blessing on the hillside. Champion of the land.
Zogairy spirit, suzerain, sorceress.
All night, under the naked stars, she keeps vigil
while the fairies rehearse the names she gave them,
and the tiger growls gently in his sleep.
Photo and words: Magpie Jane