To the Witch of Edmonton, her Familiar’s Love

Catherine Rockwood


ELIZABETH, thou’st called me Devil and I leapt for joy;

wraggled my belly upward, dug my face

plough-deep in dirt as gage of diligence.

O all the starving world rejoiced with me

that day, at May the thing, Familiar

be purchased? Not for coin nor other gain

but solely, Liza, by the going-out

of thine affection toward me in the ditch;

great mucky splay-foot Dog, night-cur, a blot

with open pits for eyes. Dogs love

where they are beloved.  It is our doom

thus to be moved, whether we would or no;

and, loving, we must show thee sports and tricks

that overtop what other creatures know.


Yet so I have offended, and harm wreaked

by me for care of thee hath done thee wrong.

No slight malignant thought, Elizabeth,

could dwell with thee a minute ‘fore I knew

(so close and apt did my soul hang on thine)

and then what thou hadst frowned on I would seek

to havoc. Mistress, didst thou but imagine

quarrelsome Edmonton laid wild and waste,

the raven in its streets and loosestrife blowing?

A wolf was with them then and every hour

save when thou gentled me, their cries rose up.

But always to thee I was sweet and soft, 

would bring thee flesh and fowl, a speckled egg

or honeycomb, held in my careful jaw.


And doted on thee sleeping, dear Eliza;

lay down at night by thy poor slender door

that never had, before my time, held firm

but now took courage from my company

and made thy home thy fortress. Didst thou dream

soundlier then, lady? And did we meet

in fields for us untroubled, where thy need

could find slow answer in a common plenty

while thy great nocent dog played innocently?

I howl it so. I hunt it. They have kept

me from thee at thy death, Elizabeth.

My shoulder at their palings, my long teeth

broken upon their pikes. I love thee only.

A better world   of this   would breed relief.





Catherine Rockwood reads and edits for Reckoning Magazine, and reviews books for Strange Horizons. At one time they were an academic specializing in early-modern drama. Her poetry chapbook, Endeavors to Obtain Perpetual Motion, is available from The Ethel Zine Press. Another mini-chapbook, And We Are Far From Shore: Poems for Our Flag Means Death, is forthcoming from Ethel in 2023.