Summer Queen

She makes grass into golden wheat
adorned in a stiff gold collarcape
walking, stroking,tending, sleeping with the crop
her brethren and children both
Her folk unforgiving of failure
poor cropping is catastrophe, starvation
Queens become then offerings
death awaits down that path

This summer is cold and wet
Wind flattened swollen heads remain green as harvest nears
she spends chill sodden desperate nights deep
in the fields, pleading the damp away
long days on the high hills
beseeching the sun for warmth to no avail
throat slitting awaits

The crop rustles, a manikin appears, barely wheat-high
Declares that he can help
can transmute wet straw to golden corn
at a price

She offers him her glistening arm-restricting collarcape
and the pleasures of her flesh
but he wants what she is loath to tender
any future child

She is doubly afraid, for herself
and for any child so forfeited
but dread convinces
of seeing her fathers eyes
as she is sacrificed
throat slit, body desecrated

So an agreement is made
and an unknowing village delights in late summer heat
glad harvesters sing of their queen
Autumnal marriage brings further abundance
made manifest in a swelling belly

Come a new spring, early skylarks soar
woodland paths are girded by fragrant blue
blossom bodes new abundance
yet the Queen is strangely reluctant to venture forth
to succour her new tilled fields
to leave her infant boy
with a village to raise him joyfully
this seems curious, inexplicable
yet she walks the encircling ramparts
staring out
waiting

He comes one night to her sleeping place
stares avidly at the child clasped close
she, however, has been considering
pondering the significance
of bargains well made
of names that control and command
of gifts freely given and so power won

What is the child that he so wants him,
what may he become?
What power will this child convey?

And she bargains once more
knowing that faery folk love so to do
and can be held to new deals made
the hobgoblin is silent impassive
until asked his own name
angry and proud he knows she can’t guess it
so the inbuilt weakness takes hold
“Tell me my name and you keep the child”
and he is gone

Long nights does she try
to divine the unknowable
the language of sprites and gods
is the language of the world around
shared with trees and rivers
rustling, thumping, creaking
a nonsense to human ears

Then the King tells her a story
whilst taking leave of his woodlands
his ice bearing hills
he spied on a little man dancing on mosses
singing a song of an ignorant woman
who will lose a child
to Rompanruoja the hobgoblin

So the father saves his son
from an uncanny fostering
for the Summer Queen she laughs
and at their next meeting
tells the old fellow his name
in pique and anger he leaves
not to be seen again

Here our tale ends with customary joy
The destiny of our Queen, her lovely boy
We cannot know
Lost in another story long ago

Copyright © 2021 Kim Whysall-Hammond

This poem was first published by Milk and Cake Press in  the  anthology  ‘Dead of Winter’, February 2021, available here.

10 thoughts on “Summer Queen

  1. Stumbled onto your site this afternoon. Not sure, exactly, how I got here! I see you write spec poetry. Likewise & ditto! I see both of us appear in Star*Line 45.1! Nice to make your acquaintance. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

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