The Magpie’s Consort
She brought me a phalanx
Twined in lichen
And I did not ask
Whose body had once held
And chitinous beetles,
She brought me—
Crystallized with dewdrops,
Life-force trapped in amber
Fading in pretty, tortured pulses.
She brought me angels:
The blood feathers of seraphim.
Her caw promised no fungal spore
Or heavenly ringworm
Would breach my brittle
Lungs; her caw, a well-known
Lullaby of lies.
And a bell, she brought me,
Tarnished silver in shiny beak,
Tinkles I would hear at night
Like fae laughter of goblin
Queens, feasting under hills
On human flesh.
For my magpie, mischievous messenger,
Harbinger of amethyst-winged doom,
I will walk naked under cherry trees
And strawberry moon.
Will spread her dowry upon
Witch- and -lemongrass,
Lay my body like an offering
For sickle talons, sterling beak.
Avra Margariti is a queer author, Greek sea monster, and Pushcart-nominated poet with a fondness for the dark and the darling. Avra’s work haunts publications such as Vastarien, Asimov’s, Liminality, Arsenika, The Future Fire, Space and Time, Eye to the Telescope, and Glittership. The Saint of Witches, Avra’s debut collection of horror poetry, is forthcoming from Weasel Press. You can find Avra on twitter (@avramargariti).
Backstory:A couple of years ago I wrote a poem about magical wives for a submission call on the theme of tricksters. The first poem in what would later become a series was about a vixen; afterward, I became interested in exploring different types of relationships with creatures of myth and magic. For this poem in particular I thought about what kind of dowry a magical spouse could provide (this was partly inspired by my Greek family’s belief that a wedding requires a dowry of silver and lace). The magpie’s dowry turned out to be much more luminous and sinister.
Editor’s Note: The genus Amanita contains about 600 species of agarics, including some of the most toxic known mushrooms found worldwide, as well as some well-regarded edible species. This genus is responsible for approximately 95% of the fatalities resulting from mushroom poisoning, with the death cap accounting for about 50% on its own. The most potent toxin present in these mushrooms is α-amanitin. [Wikipedia]
Interestingly enough: BBC News: “Magpies ‘don’t steal shiny objects’” by Roger Harrabin
Image credit:Photograph of a magpie among snow-encrusted plants (USFWS Mountain-Prairie/ Wikimedia Commons,https://blog.nature.org/science/2018/08/13/magpies-murder-mischief-and-myth/) cropped and reprocessed through prism filters in ToolWizPhotos for an ominous effect.