Seeing Kettles


Seeing Kettles

The fire-black kettle, salvaged from a thermal pool,
was ditched before the First World War, O’Malley claimed.
It looked more dented than an infantry tin hat;
he fancied it among the relics at his school.

A copper pelt was hidden under years of grime.
He scraped at it and tinkered with the dents until
its scalp was almost snug - and its snout was clear.
The witching shadows thickened; it was past teatime.

The kettle cocked an eyebrow. Had its time arrived?
‘Why not?’ the Wizard thought - and filled it to the brim.
‘Historic tea will resurrect the artefact!’
Raw bergamot was in the brew that he contrived.

The kettle grumbled in the flames and hissed abuse.
It writhed and spat-out vaporous breath; its eyes turned red.
Three students, in the gloaming, heard unearthly shrieks
and, peering in, they glimpsed all Hell let loose.

The flames were fanned because O’Malley wore a cowl.
His students saw the Devil’s Cat and ran - in fright.
Their gossip spawned a folktale, and the folktale grew
into a myth; the myth made thirteen Hell-cats howl.

O’Malley, sadly, made the Earl Grey tea and poured
a single cup. ‘There are no monsters left,’ he mused.
‘They must have crawled-back through the crack between intent
and percept. I stood guard - but they side-stepped my sword.’

Alan Wagstaff

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