Giles Watson

Giles Watson

Posted on 08/25/2014

Photo taken on August 25, 2014

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The Changing of Blodeuwedd

The Changing of Blodeuwedd
The Changing of Blodeuwedd

For fear of Gwydion, you dare not proceed
without looking backwards, so the magus
cast his charm over your shoulders, where
yellow hair cascaded. Your clavicle pursed
into a wishbone, your sternum raised
its keel, your breast downed itself over.
These things grew out of love for Gronw,
whose hand that morning was in your hair;
your face bloomed white and heart-shaped.

Then you remembered your mode of making
and why they made you – how oak, broom,
meadowsweet became white bone, supple
flesh, seductive lips, waxing, waning phases
of womanly desires, how they served you
to your husband ready-made, and when you
backed off, bound you to him. That was why
the wand of Gwydion failed to curb your second
change, and when the wings were spread,
the dark was pierced with widened eyes,
your mouth and nose hooked themselves up,
and out of your toes, talons sprouted like
roots growing. In the White Book and the Red
they neglect to tell that at your screech,
the arch magus dropped his wand, and fled.

Poem by Giles Watson, 2014. Source: The fourth branch of the Mabinogion. Blodeuwedd was conjured out of flowers by Math and Gwydion, as a bride for Lleu Llaw Gyffes, but when she fell in love with Gronw Bebyr and left her husband, Gwydion pursued her and transformed her into an owl.