The Gnome at Your Door

The gnome at your door is not what you think!

He was a proud elven warrior, well-versed in poetry and lore, an excellent harpist descended from Lugh of the Silver Hand, his mother a promiscuous nymph.

When he witnessed the Industrial Revolution he shrunk in stature, fleeing to the fields to hide.

Years later he went to the Somme. It was then his heart turned to stone and broke clean in half. He was transfixed, unable to move, deformed.

How he arrived in our shops I don’t know. I pray that he doesn’t either.

Bow with respect as you pass.

Sad City

The buildings in that part of town had seen better days. The white paint was peeling from classical porticos, the concrete steps were stained, the tall sash windows needed fresh paint and the curtains that hung limp behind them were worn and in need of a wash. If they were washed, they might fall apart. The trees at the edge of the pavement, too closely hemmed in tried to push up the slabs. I notice a dandelion thrusting its way through a crack by the wall. That made me smile for a moment, but the mood didn’t last. 

I turned and walked into a shabby little park with sparse grass and bare stunted trees. Then I saw her; a misplaced middle aged fairy-tale geisha in a long, fitted, brocade dress that had once been the colour of dark jewels but was now faded and made me think of thick dust. She took small hesitant steps. Her hair was up, piled on her head. Her delicate oriental face and her fragile neck were beautiful but outlined by deeply imbedded smoky grey grime.

I imagined her room in one of those houses, feeling sure she lived alone with her old treasures. I couldn’t imagine her cleaning her room. Why would she bother?

I would have liked to invite her to tea, with full ceremony and grace, but I didn’t approach. I was young then. She must have died long ago. 

Broken Mirror

It was new moon when we moved into the new house and, when my mother unpacked the mirror, it was broken. She was distraught. ”Seven years bad luck! And it’s already cut my finger!” My mother is very superstitious. But my grandmother, dragging the first aid box out from under a purple blanket and a pile of old books, said ‘No problem, love. Take is out back to the stream. Bury it under running water. Then bow to the moon. That will sort it. I’ll go and buy us all fish and chips while you do it.’

Now my mother is no longer the person she was. She forgot to bow to the moon that night and grandma drowned in the stream the next afternoon.

Skillywidden 2

Skilly had worked at the potter’s wheel all the time, never letting any form he created remain; the clay was in constant flow from one shape to another. Sometimes he completed a pot which he paused to decorate with patterns and scenes of daily life but each time he squashed it flat and started again. He made all kinds of animals too when the wheel was still. Tigers leapt, wolves howled, horses ran, a hedgehog lay curled, a flower bloomed and changed into a swan. Just as he had completed the figure of a lark Dewdrop distracted him and he released the clay bird for a moment and it flew up, up and away, climbing high into the sky and singing. He sat and watched it go with a slight frown.

Dewdrop clapped her hands and giggled.

‘’Ah well, no great harm done,’’ he said and leaned forward to scoop more clay from the bank of the pond. Spinning the wheel he began another pot. ‘’After all these years I still haven’t mastered this, but the bird sings well enough.’’

*******

Moon and Dylan met again next day by the pool, where Skillywidden sat fishing. He seemed a very patient fisherman as they sat there long and he caught nothing. Wilf was watching the water closely. Dylan remarked on the lack of fish.

Skillywidden laughed.

‘It’s a long time I’d be here for sure,’’ he said ‘’if it’s fish I am after for there are none in this pool that I know of at all. I’m fishing for dreams and I caught a dozen or more already lad. They are resting there in my net keeping fresh. One of ’em may be yours tonight.’’

Dylan peered at the net just below the surface of the pool but to him it seemed entirely empty. Having known Skillywidden for a while he didn’t question further. He liked the idea of having a dream from Skilly’s catch and hoped he might have one that very night.

(An extract from ‘The Raven and the Storyteller’ – all rights of authorship claimed. A.Chakir/A.Gouedard)

Skillywidden

Skillywidden is a name that appears in Cornish Folklore. He is a Cornish Piskie. Here is a story about him (traditional retold, not mine) ~

I adopted the name for a character in a novel I am currently re-editing. I chose it for it’s sound and it’s relationship to the word Widdershins.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/widdershins

Legend holds that demons always approached the devil widdershins. Not surprisingly, such a path was considered evil and unlucky. By the mid-1500s, English speakers had adopted “widdershins,” (from the Old High German widar, meaning “back” or “against,” and sinnen, meaning “to travel”) for anything following a path opposite to the direction the sun travels across the sky (that is, counterclockwise). But in its earliest known uses “widdershins” was far less malignant; it was used simply to describe a case of bad hair in which unruly locks stood on end or fell the wrong way.

My Skillywidden is older than time. He is a creator. And he is certainly not malignant but ‘counter clockwise’ and ‘unruly’ seemed appropriate. He is a weaver and a potter, spinning the world and unruled by time and place.

Here he is~~~~ (extract from my novel for which I claim all rights. If you share please retain my authorship) ~~~

From the Raven and the Storyteller ~

Huge oaks grew close to the stones, their deep earthed roots causing some of the stones to lean. Sitting with his back to one of the oaks was a man of small stature. He wore a green jacket the colour of moss, with many buttons and wide lapels and his trousers were tucked into brown boots. In his high hat he wore a pheasant’s feather and a daffodil. He was weaving at a loom that was made of branches and twigs. Moon couldn’t see his face, as shadow fell across it at first.

Moon slid down off Braveheart’s back and moved closer. The man looked up as he approached. His face was weathered; both young and old, and he had twinkling green eyes that seemed to lead into the depths and shades of the wood. He nodded and smiled but continued to weave. He patted a mossy stone at his side, inviting Moon to sit. Moon felt himself in the presence of something deeply magical and ancient but also a quietly sustaining peace.

The man smiled broadly and gestured toward the weave of the cloth which was of intricate and ever changing designs in many colours, both subdued and bright. The weave seemed endless although its length was only enough to reach to the little man’s brown boots.

Moon felt himself drawn in. He saw image after alluring image, some fleetingly and some more clearly but it was the fleeting ones that captured his mind amidst the longer tales. He saw stories, but to him they all looked like one story, one story with many choices, just as we choose our paths through a wood, a world full of possibilities, but in all this he felt the pull of the earth or some central well where all streams lead.

He saw the woman of the gold coins in the City, dressed in pale blue and soft pink. The woman sat at a fireside smiling and laughing as a small boy played at her feet. His mind briefly drifted to Gan-Galar, his own mother. He saw a door with an intricate silver knocker like a hand reaching down, and on a little stone wall at the side there was a small white statue of a unicorn curled up asleep.

He saw a far-off sunlit valley where a hare ran weaving side to side through tall grasses and seed pods scattered into the breeze of his passing.  He saw dragons sleeping under the land stir and turn in their sleep. He saw a land that was full of orchards. He saw a girl, her long hair tumbling down as she moved in a circle dance. He saw a man chopping wood outside a hut in a clearing. He saw an archer.

As if in a dewdrop on a dark spear-shaped leaf he briefly saw a face, a beautiful face both gentle and strong with clear grey eyes that looked straight at him in recognition. The face seemed unknown to him but was also like a distant memory. He remembered those eyes. Moons hand reached out to touch the face and everything vanished, the man, the loom and the weave, all instantly gone.