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Ghost Story

It is the northern night,
the dark night of the North;

the sky is woven from ravens' wings
and the wind flaps at the windows.

Hearthlight flickers and creeps
and I see a ghost coming.

For a thousand years and more
he slept in root and stone,

banished, cursed, a stake through his heart,
silent and still, like wintering sap,

until, when tides of time had turned,
the land gave him birth again.

I see his one eye glittering
through the shivering panes;

I feel his approaching footsteps
and the stink of wolves' breath.

no use now, the rusted charms
set once above the door;

no use now, the dull tongues
groping for forgotten prayers.

I hear his heavy knock
and his old, familiar voice:

"I'm back again -
your Master, before and after Christ."

Jeremy Hirst

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