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Laura Varnam


The Raven Goddesses


                        After Beowulf


Our ravens are called

Hide and Seek and Look at Me.


Hide squats in your corner-eye,

slyly she salts away your secrets.


Seek smokes the hag out of

memory’s back door. She crows.


Look at Me lands to roost on

the thought-eaves, peeping.




(When Beowulf demolished 

Daeghrefn– he pulverized that

Day-Raven, with a pow! and a

crack!– the Night-Ravens 

scattered the scraps, corpse

carrion for scavenger-poets,

body parts and bloody heart

strings that thwack! and splat!)


In the clamour, we whooshed

to the woods and plotted.




With beak and claw each

we teased out a feather.


One for the wyrd-woman,

sitting tight in her tree.

Her time is not yet for reckoning.


One for the queen of cups,

taking her turn in the hall.

Each dawn she gobbles her ire.


One for the scop-sister,

setting off on the raven-road,

our stories secure and satchel-safe.


When she unbuckles this book,

our voices will burn men to shame.


Inkwells for eyes, quills for fingers,

we are the manscaða

– we ravage the men who ravished us, 

we pluck out their poetry, 

scalp their goose-pimpled heroism –

They'll not leave here unscathed.

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