Tonight I look upon a full moon, red and bathed in blood
I remember my native country
Where weretigers come to life
In demonic trances of old medicine men.
My grandmother once told me
Of foreign voices and men thirsty for blood
Of a brave woman who withstood them all
My great grandmother, of course.
“I remember the night I escaped
From the grip of the supernatural
The curse of the father of that house”
She had said.
I remember the stories of wretched witches
And a vindictive man cursing through her door.
She said, it was the blood that saved her
Maybe that is why
I bathe myself in blood too,
Just as the moon does
Every six months or so
I think that was what the preacher had said.
My father talked of flying saucers
And old soul reapers
Of bottomless pits
And beautiful mirages.
My uncle said, “There were two kinds of angels.
The godly and the demonic.
You would not like the latter.
They pull men into sordid lakes
Tempt them with river stones,
Disguised as pieces of divine bread.”
He also said,
“Those angels (Or devils, I am not sure)
They disguise themselves in forms of fish
They fear the broom and not garlic,
As you would expect.”
I was told by a friend
That the forest in my ancestral village is sacred
Someone else said it was cursed.
All I know is there have been men
Who have had bodies
Turn backwards with their heads forward
All for love of defying what the ancestors forbade.
I walked into the same forest
That sacred grove.
I had no fear for I was marked with blood.
I met a man in there
Amidst the thick of the brushwood
He said he was a guide.
He showed us round stone tables
Where he said,
Girls like me, were sacrificed to spirits
Of the earth and of the wood.
I think it was the blood
That saved my life that day.
I learnt much later,
He was a spirit.
No guide was known.
That man, with us
With his unkempt beard and haunting yellow eyes
Was never once seen before (or again)
No one had known what the tables were for
No one dared ask. The ancestors had some purpose there.
No one knew.
With the exception of the haunting image of that man.
I still remember the way his eyes
Seemed to penetrate through my spirit.
My friends screamed when he turned around
As we neared the waterfalls
His eyes seemed to burn with fire,
A fire that seem cold and dark
Like no fire I had ever seen.
We ran till it rained.
And there he was
At the edge of that forest
Having outran us without us noticing.
Some cried, some panicked.
Remembering the blood on my forehead.
Maybe that is why I was not sacrificed
To those spirits of the earth and the wood.
*The above picture is of the sacred grove,” Lawkyntang” in Mawphlang, Meghalaya, India.