folktober – Dorset Ooser
One of only two known photographs of the original Ooser, taken between 1883 and 1891 by J.W. Chaffins and Sons of Yeovil
The masked one
Look at me in the street and you will see a man as ordinary as can be. You see nobody, nothing of any consequence, no reason to trouble yourself about me. Day and night are such strange characters. It’s not just the absence of light, you know. Though it helps, of course.
Glance upon my countenance tonight and you shall see a god who you will worship if you look at him at all. I guarantee you will not look too closely. You fear that I can see into your soul, strike you dead, or dumb and blind. To cast your eyes upon me is by invitation only. Deities choose whom they are seen by. You will know that is not you.
Yet today, did you think twice before you pushed past the middle aged man, dressed in a conservative fashion. Dressed in costume by day. As he changes into another by night.
Which is the mask you ask yourself, and which is not? And well you may.
Oh come, simpleton! You don’t expect me to answer your question, do you?
-©Ailsa Cawley 2021
By way of introduction, one of Odin’s many by-names is Grímnir (the masked one, the hooded one), another is Grímr (mask). As such, he questions the giants, the etins, the Jötnar , interrogating the great unknowables, in quizzing contests for which the wager is the other’s head. An example of this would be Grímnismál.
Fire on my sword-hand, fire on my shield,
The cold that runs across my mind
Is not enough. Iron-nerves can melt.
Daring to be dead already may dull the fear.
Immense, the etin imitates the sky.
Knowledge comes from nothing, knowing void.
Thought waits on motion, memory on both.
Odin is the stillest thing, stays curious.
“By what name is it known, among the nine worlds:
The fear in every heart? First among the Jotun,
If you have wisdom words can carry.
Speak so you are heard. Spit is Kvasir’s blessing.”
“The fire is afraid of falling away.
The ice fears inertia; Etin-kind, understanding.
The Vanir make a villain out of virtuous thought.
While the Aesir have no fear, but annihilation.
“Men fear leaving the middle-way,
Women fear their words of command.
The elves fear the other will be lost.
The dead fear nothing: doom is assured.
“Now I have named it, next is yours:
Speak out, hooded one, what holds your fear?”
“I will tell you when tomorrow comes –
This dread, like you, lying dead at my feet.”
-Math Jones 2020
I’m a mask. Two holes for eyes where there
are no eyes. Inside these small spaces is a
larger place where a brain would be where
thinking would take place and a tongue to say
what comes to mind, instead I’m emptiness.
When you wear me I don’t have your brain,
tongue, but you are different more or less
from when you don’t wear me, you’re not the same.
I have horns and a moveable jaw. When
you speak through me, I don’t speak. I always
say nothing. You have all the words to bend
to thoughts I never have. These word ways
are a mystery to me. How am I
speaking now? I’m only a mask. So why?
Bios And Links
has been writing stories, poems and verses since she was a child.
It’s not always what is considered poetry by some, as she isn’t a lover of sweet, schmaltzy rhymes!
She is currently writing her first novel. A psychological thriller with a paranormal element, and she hopes to bring out a poetry collection one day!
She lives on the Isle of Skye. While some of her poetry is written from personal experience, others are written from her slightly dark and twisted imagination.