Feeding the Crone

In Celtic mythology, the archetype of the Crone is an ambiguously interpreted figure. How do I see her? For me, she is the door-opener, the portal to older age. She has no illusions about either herself or others. Her expectations of life have been shaved cleaner, clearer, smoother, she is full of the art of living and her art is honed from the craft of daily endurance. If I compare her to anything, she may be seen as a smoothly-carpented table, full of notches and curlicues, the supports strong. A person could be laid out on such a table. A person could have sex on such a table. A person could be operated on surgically on such a table. She has seen the comings and the goings. Her opposite in life – for me at least – is the warlock, the elder male who shares similar qualities of endurance. But a crone needs feeding. Her intellect is vast and almost insatiable, her appetite for the politics of good gossip is almost equal to her intellect, and her distance from anything that bothers her is noteworthy. She has done her time being close up to things; she has lived at close quarters to the attitudes of those who need her and are needy. She too is needy, but not generally of others. Her greatest need is to be left alone to think, to travel, to wander, or to stay at home with her feet in the ashes of her own dying fire, a book in one hand, and a glass of frothing cider in the other. She is busy squaring up with life, and this next passage as she moves through crone-dom – the quality of it and how it is lived – is of great concern to her. Here is my Crone poem below . . .

Feeding the Crone

The crone is knocking on my door.
Despite myself I open. 
A north wind gusts in.
‘Any chance of a cup of tea?’
she asks, conciliatory,
as if we hadn’t been through this rigmarole
several times already.
 
I wouldn’t grudge a person
the chance to wet their lips,
I’d throw in a biscuit or two,
not to mention a slice of the cake
my daughter made yesterday. That’s
what she needs! A young girl’s cake,
free-range eggs, flour,
country butter, rich with youth,
the  romance of moist confection.
I slip the crone a huge triangle,
knowing she won’t say no
to a turn like that.
Blue and white frosting sidle
down the sides, stick to her fingers,
make their way to sweeten her mouth.
She swallows and licks,
casts a glance at the cake a second time.
Again, I cut deep, to fill her sagging,
groaning belly. What else would I do?
By the time she’s done,
she hesitates in the doorway,
a smile almost cracking her jowls.
‘That was some cake,’ she whispers,
turning away, patting herself
as if she was pregnant.
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