The Changeling

after an Icelandic folktale in which an elf child
is exchanged for a human one

Loftur. His name means air,
and my cries
wend up to him, 
on the currents 
of afterbirth, the veil

of second sight
still wrapped around his head. 
You mean wind. 
Husband, I know what I named him. 
He witnessed his own birth; 
it caught his breath

like a raven swooping to catch a berry 
as it drops from the bush. 
When a cold front moved off sea, 
to the ring of mountains-- 
everything gave way to stillness 
I could not escape.

His first impulse was flight 
out from under this lid 
toward another vision, 
but was he blind to the one we have?
You mean storm, brewing around us, 
had he waited to ride it out?

I mean this child left to me, without cowl, 
breath gone from him, 
no cry issued, 
nothing for me to nurture. 
By now he's back there, 
knew where to go--

his hand extended to grasp 
the forerunner's, and when they touch, 
all the dark feathered beings will rivet 
the air with their calls and I'll 
shudder through root and stone. 
You mean rain

will come soon. 
This time, I will follow. 
They are brothers now 
someone else must raise.

More by Cynthia Hogue

in the meadow magenta

(reading Robert Duncan in Haldon Forest)

bloom looks
like lupine from afar
but up close the small bell-
like flowers of wild hollyhock

        the holy that forth
        came that must

come mystery
of frond fern
gorse a magic
to which I

        relate to
        land of hillock and

bolder the grayer
sky and wood
the straight flat One
between them barred

        by the bushy Scots pine
        medicinal veridian of ever-

green which though
gossip rumor spell
or chance change us
is not changed