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Mother of Monsters
A poem for Fenrir, from Angrboda
A mother wolf guards her cubs.
That, more than anything,
Is what she thinks of for them -
Keep them safe from all that might
Eat them, until they are old enough
To be predators in turn. A mother wolf
Loves her cubs, all of them, even those
Who are unfit, who must be exposed
And left to die. Do not think that she
Does not mourn them, even when she
Does what must be done.
Do not believe that there is no love
For the corpse in the snow, the tiny
Furred body laid to rest at last.
I could not protect my son.
His father's wyrd was greater still,
More twisted than any other thread
In the great tapestry, and all that branch
Off it - no, even all that are wound with it -
Become part of that great destructive wyrd.
It is my greatest shame, that though I fought
To my last breath, burnt and raging,
Until I was ashes in the ruin, they still took him.
While the children of others were embraced
By their parents' love, ate at their warm hearthsides,
Slept in their own beds confident
That they were loved, my son was caged
By those who would chain my womb
With my own son's breath.
tyrfeedingOh, Tyr and those who helped him tried
To train the pup, bring him to heel,
Good boy, good boy, fetch that for us,
Fetch and carry, be obedient, don't bite,
And perhaps you can earn a few hours' grace.
A few hours out in the sun to be shown off
To those who hold you and your blood in contempt,
To sneer at you, to speak of you in venom-words
That your ears caught, no matter how they tried.
My son was fed, and trained, and treated not unkindly,
But there was no love. No love! How do you think
That one binds a heart that raw, a soul so wild?
Not with stern words alone. There must be love,
Or all is failed. I am the Mother of Monsters,
I was made to love them, no matter their form and failings.
My son was no fool - he could smell the fear
On his caretakers, their relief when the day was done,
Their false smiles. There was no love for him there,
Save, perhaps, a little in old Tyr's heart,
And an old warrior crusty from the field
Is no replacement for a mother who knows her child.
To them, he was merely an unpleasant duty
That must be done if the world's wyrd was to be changed.
If I could have reached out my heart to touch my son,
Trapped there in that armed camp, I would have sent it
Fluttering like a bird into his lonely arms.
Instead, I wept and raged alone, and he paced sullen
Locked in a cage that grew tighter every year.
And after that, after all that, when he did finally escape,
What did they expect? Fools! My son's wyrd stood
On the razor edge of a knife, and they tore him away
To a loveless place, and sealed his fate. With one blow,
They thought to change Wyrd, and instead they brought it true.
The only one whose hands could have changed
That fate was me, and me they left impotent.
A son for a son, I said, between clenched teeth,
And waited out the smoldering years.
When he came to me at last, grown to man's height,
Lean and shaggy-haired, eyes like staring coals
Burnt in his head, looming in my door like the dead
Returned to life, I opened my arms to him.
Maybe there was a chance, one chance, one tiny hole
In the doom that had tightened around him,
And if there was one chance, perhaps it could be found
In the arms of a mother's love. There is only one way
To prove love to one such as that, on the ragged edge
Of manhood, steeped in loneliness, and I did it.
I opened my body to him, where once it had brought him forth,
And let the others say what they may. I do not regret
My choice. But after he had arisen, I knew
That the last chance was flown, and it was already too late
Before he reached my threshold. His doom had claimed him.
I knew what must be done. Run, my son. If you must kill
Besiege the very gates of Asgard, and devour those
Who wronged you, who have made you what you are.
He never made it to those gates, of course;
He was young still, and had not gained his full growth
Nor self-control. And I stood by, and knew,
And did nothing when they chained him, for what
Could I do now? I had failed him, and the world.
His father and I, we sat silent in my hall
Not touching, not looking at each others'
Drawn visages, feeling every blow
As that chain tightened once again around him.
My son, my cub, sacrificed for all the reasons
Which sound so reasonable when spoken aloud.
So there he lies, and all revile him, never mind
How he was made. There he lies, the demon
Within each of them, cast into darkness
That they might ignore the guilt laid before them,
The twin streams of blood that forever wash
Their righteous hands. They have given him the burden
Of being their demon, the embodiment of their inner hate,
And he bears it willingly now, for it is what he was taught.
I know what my son is.
I have no illusions about his soul, his hungers,
His ghastly maddened doom. But still I love him
With a mother's love, for I am the Mother of Monsters
And I love them all, no matter their flaws
Or damage, so long as their souls are strong
As the love I have to give. And if my son goes
Alone into the darkness,
I will not fail him again.
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