Stone Telling

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Tiddy Mun is Gone

by Patricia Monaghan

Voices of dead fen men rise from shops and streets
weeping for the old ones, boggarts and will-o-tha-wykes
and such like that came through the darklings moaning,
and todlowries that danced on the tussocks in the fens

before workers, desperate for a dollar's food, drained
the green still water where Tiddy Mun lived deep under,
that old one with long white hair walking limpelty lobelty
gowned in gray that you could scarce see through the mist

and not so much frightening the fen men as reminding them
of awesome presences in water and sodden land that yearned
towards the moon each month, creeping ever so slowly
towards the houses of the fen men, where the families stood

at open doors, calling into darkness, "Tiddy Mun!
Tiddy Mun! you without a name, walking lame,
harm none, Tiddy Mun, harm none, harm none,"
and the gray spirit would take the waters back again

and all would be safe again, until men desperate for dollars
drained the fens and Tiddy Mun drowned them, one by one,
but more came until the battle with the waters was won and green
fields appeared where green water once swelled and subsided

and Tiddy Mun vanished utterly, and now voices of dead fen men
know of a spirit with no home, no home at all in the dead fens,
and call out warnings to us in the shops and the streets
and we have nowhere safe to go, nowhere at all, at all.

Patricia Monaghan is the author of four books of poetry including the recent Homefront, which explores the impact of war on families.  She has also written more than a dozen nonfiction books: two encyclopediae of myths including The Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines; a spiritual geography of Ireland entitled The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog; a book on gardening called Magical Gardens; and other titles in spirituality and feminism.  She is professor of interdisciplinary studies at DePaul University in Chicago and Senior Fellow at the Black Earth Institute in Wisconsin.

"Tiddy Mun is Gone" was originally published in ISLE: Issues in Study of Literature and Environment, 2003.

Photography: Fens Highway, by Jon Smith.