Lindworm Begs His Latest Wife in Silence

Maria Schrater

Lindworm Begs His Latest Wife in Silence
 
Strip a skin from me for every bride
I set my fangs in, swallowed, mulled to
Venom wine
 
And shed one in return, silk softer than
Yourself, it snags every callous
You, bare, are as much a secret as I
 
Scatter my scales across the floor like coins
Spend every one to buy indulgence
Till I turn worm beneath the armor
 
And grasp my throat like a shepherd’s crook,
Wrap your wrist in lye-dyed lashes
Calves plunging in the tub like striking snakes
 
Bathe me and beat me, milk and leather,
Every strike the dowry for another love
I ached for each as I surrendered to the predator
 
And you cry out with every stroke as if for me
But it does not hurt, dearest, it is the awful
Ecstasy of metamorphosis
 
I tremble in your hand with limbs I’ve never known
And all my life I’ve craved to be unearthed and broken open
Shriven from remorseless animal, blood baptized to warm
 
But you, the coerced savior of some rabbit-bride
Might walk away to wash your hands of me
Back to some other life, and I could only watch
 
You smile

_______________

Maria Schrater is a writer & poet based in Chicago. Her work has appeared in Sycorax Journal and in Air & Nothingness Press’s Wild Hunt and Future Perfect in Past Tense anthologies. She is also an associate editor for Apparition Literary Magazine. She especially loves folklore and mythology and often works with retellings. When not writing, she can be found imitating bird calls in the woods. You can find her on Twitter @MariaSchrater.

Author’s Backstory and Comments: I love the fairytale of the Lindworm as an entry in the metamorphosis genre. In other versions, he’s a more sinister figure and happy to devour his luckless wives, but the intensity and thoroughness required for his transformation adds pathos to me. True love’s kiss is not enough for this monster, he has to physically shed multiple skins. I’ve tried to write a Lindworm poem several times, this was the one that stuck: I credit C.S.E. Cooney’s monthly poetry group for giving me the time and concentration to write it.

Editor’s Notes and Image Credit: The lindworm or lindwurm was a popular motif found on runestones in 11th-century Sweden. Portrayals vary across countries and the stories in which they appear, the creature generally appearing as wingless with a serpentine body, dragon’s head, scaled skin and two clawed forelimbs. Depictions imply lindworms do not walk on their two limbs like a wyvern, but move like a mole lizard: they slither like a snake and use their arms for traction…. According to the 19th-century English archaeologist Charles Boutell, a lindworm in heraldry is basically “a dragon without wings.” [Wikipedia]

Image: Lindworms in ink [by kristinas/ spoonflower.com]

https://www.spoonflower.com/en/wallpaper/11349652-lindworms-ink-medium-by-kristinas

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