Her cat, God’s experiment in the imagination



There’s a wonderful folktale from Scotland, called “The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies.”  It’s very hard to find, either online or in books. I heard it once in a lecture from the Jung Institute, and it has stayed with me.

I wrote a poem from it:

Captured by the Fairies

Carried off down the forest path,
that other world wants what she has,
something there needs nourishing.

On the way home from the feast,
when she’s exhausted,
having every charm but
conscience and consistency,
nodding, drowsy with baking,
she’s loaded off .

The fairies – very easily offended,
very easily pleased.
Capriciousness their chief occupation.
Feasting, fighting, making love, playing music,
they hunger for
the numinous power of flour and egg and milk…

The captured cook calls for her cat,
God’s experiment
in the imagination…
her dog, always the lolling fall guy,
her pots and pans
her stove,
her babe,
her husband.
Out of one comes two.
Out of two comes three,
and the fairies hold their delicate deerlike ears
and cry –
the kitchen noise too much for them.

The fairies send her home,
drowsy with gold,
drunk with victory,
wiping her apron on the crumbs
of the contract-
Every year when the yeasty powdery fall flies,
she comes back
to bake a cake
just for them.



Published by ahiggins2013

poet, birder, senior citizen, cancer survivor, Catholic sister. Eight books of poetry published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013, Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press, 2015.

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