Keziah Mason


A little poem about the birth of a famous literary witch, and the birth of her familiar, "Brown Jenkin"
    After H.P. Lovecraft’s “Dreams in the Witch House” (1932)
“Something’s not right
     about Keziah,”
the midwife tells
     the scholar father,
     Pastor Mason,
the Salem Divine.
The doting mother
won’t hear of it.
“Bad auspices,” the father nods.
“I told you so.”
The mother cradles it
     as midwife scurries off
with rags and the bloody
     umbilical,
an accusing serpent.
“Baby Keziah,” the mother croons,
“my perfect child.”
“Not right, bad auspices,
     bad numerology,
too many vowels,
bad luck to have alpha
     follow zed that way.”
She waves him away.
Anxious, he follows
     the weary midwife,
     Old Goodie Brown.
Their eyes meet.
“Tell me, “ he asks.
“Why didn’t you say
if I have a son or daughter?”
“Neither,” she says.
“Who knows,” she shrugs,
“what it will grow to?”
“Deformed?” he guesses.
She shakes her head.
“Hermaphrodite?”
Her eyes avoid him.
“The ancients write
of such creatures.”
The midwife hesitates,
taking the small purse
he discreetly offers.
“I’ve seen odd things,
good Pastor Mason,
but never this:
not male, not female.
What’s there,
I’d call machinery,
and what use God
or the Devil intends for it
I’ll not be thinking on.”
She hurries out
into the snowstorm,
the bloodied rag
held tight,
not one but two
umbilicals,
a black-furred thing
     whose razor teeth
gnaw and consume
     the after-birth.
 “There, there,” she coos,
     petting its fur,
as a tiny facsimile
of the Pastor’s face
stares up at her.
“Old Goodie Brown
     will look out
for her little Jenkin,
my perfect child.”
Then the thing cleared
its tiny throat
and after a dry
and preliminary chittering
it thanked her
in fourteen languages.

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