5/18/13

A Tendency to Be Gone by Pamela Ryder

It is a bad sign to come upon creatures dead-born in a hollow, their eyes still sealed, their ears still folded over. It is worse to touch the one born with a caul, to put your hand where you will not see your hand: around a stick poked down a burrow, slid along the sill of a doorway, or slipped into a box you like to keep locked up.

It is a right charm to count backwards on your fingers to keep your free from fits, from fancies; to keep you safe from someone coming up behind you when you are looking down through skim-ice to the water; to keep the water from filling in a hole you might have dug.

It is a strong spell to take the sheet a child—a boy—was born on, burn it on a willow fire, blow the ashes on a milkless mother: her breasts and lips, her hair.