December Bonus Content: Dame Evergreen

Image courtesy of Dominik Kempf at Unsplash

Now comes the time of Midwinter’s Hag,
when holy sun hides her face, night rules
longest, and stars cut the open sky.

Now comes the time of the Hoarfrost Maid,
when mountains howl and the trees
stand as bare-boned sentinels.

Now comes the time of Dame Evergreen,
who braves hungry snow and cunning ice,
basket of coal and bright torch in hand.

In cloak of red, she walks. Her loyal
page, wrapped deep in furs of wolf and bear,
knows safety in her steps. Basket

of bread and basket of mead held close, he
follows his Dame through the Yuletide night.
Town to town, village to village, door

to door they walk, offering fire
to the cold, light to the lost, food
to the hungry. Now comes the forest

of Midwinter’s Hag. Upon her great white
bear she rides, balding and brittle-boned.
“Food, drink,” the Hag says, voice the creak

of frozen branches. “I hunger, I thirst.”
Red of cloak, Dame Evergreen offers
bread and mead, piece by piece, sip by sip,

until the Hag has filled her gaping
belly, and both baskets hang empty
from the page’s trembling hands. Silent,

fiercely grinning, Midwinter’s Hag rides
into Yuletide’s deepest night. On they
walk, town to town, village to village,

door to door. Now comes the high mountain
of the Hoarfrost Maid. Upon her great
black wolf she rides, hunched and knife-eyed.

“Food, drink,” the Maid says, voice the crash of stone.
“I hunger, I thirst.” Dame Evergreen,
red-cloaked, offers bread and mead, piece by

piece, sip by sip, until the Hoarfrost
Maid’s ravenous belly is full, and
the twin baskets hang hollow from the

page’s shaking hands. Laughing, with a
feral smile, the Hoarfrost Maid rides
into Yuletide’s darkest night. On they

walk, town to town, village to village,
door to door, Dame Evergreen’s bright torch
lighting their way. As the longest night

yields to the day, and holy sun at
last shows her shining face, Dame and page
set aside torch and coal, cloak of red

and coat of fur, baskets now empty
true. In beds of yew and pine they seek
their short rest. Soon will come the time

to sew the seeds, build the nests, and dig
the burrows. Soon will come the time when
the Hoarfrost Maid’s voice of stone becomes

the roar of rain-fed mountain streams. Soon will
come the time when the frozen-forest
voice of Midwinter’s Hag becomes

the pulse of rich tree sap. The way will be
made. Soon the time when Springtide’s Child
and the Vernal Queen waken the world.

[Originally published in Faerie Magazine #37 (Winter 2016). Reprinted in Dame Evergreen, and Other Poems of Myth, Magic, and Madness (Sycorax Press).]

[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. A complete list of her published works can be found there.]