The Njuggle

At midnight on Hallowe’en, my back to the moon,

I looked in the mirror to scry my lover-to-be.

His face rose like a drowned man’s.

At twilight I walked by the lochan in the hills

where the whaap’s cry wavers from the reeds.

A piebald pony ambled up. His nostrils

pulsed as he blew into my hand.

Clicking my tongue, I patted his flanks

and his muscles shivered like water in the wind.

When he lowered his head, I knew I must mount.

I rode him through the night, gripping his back

between my thighs till I slid on our sweat

and he rolled me into cold, green fire.

I clung to his mane blooming with algae,

his shoulders encrusted with mussels and mire.

His hooves softened and opened into a fan

of fingers and toes. Belly flattening, spine

whip-lashing, he bucked and shrank into a man.

As the dark fled, he turned to plunge me under

but dawn broke and he poured through my arms.

I was alone, calling, calling with no answer,

only the widening circles on the loch.                                                                



Notes:  A Njuggle is a demon water horse or pony found in Shetlandic and Orkney folklore.

            A whaap (Shetlandic) - a curlew.

Published in the author's pamphlet 'Flout' (HappenStance, 2015).