Wanton Agnes by Marc Woodward

Wanton Agnes

My glowing pink skin belies me
and I know that glint in your eye:
you’re hoping we might go to bed?
Would you feel the same
if I was pea-pod green instead?

Before the bang and the ringing bells
that chimed us from cave into sunlight:
that’s how I was – and my brother too.
Ah, yes, you know me now?
You’ve heard the gossiped news…

I’m Agnes, the green girl who lived:
I learned to forsake green beans
and to eat your garish food
then watch at the placid mill
as my skin took on your pig pink hue.

My homesick brother did the same
but his heart was always green.
Constant as malachite,
green as the willows
quivering by the wolf pits;

green as loyalty, green with memory,
green as the bright watermeal
that hides newts and frogs
but couldn’t conceal
his bloated pink corpse.

So take me to bed, perhaps make me your wife,
I’ll love you as any pink person might.
But you must know that when I hear
the high bells of St Edmund’s
tolling out bold and clear,

I’ll want to take the cold hand
of my brother’s colourless ghost
and walk where once a way appeared,
down by those lonely traps,
– that stranded us sun-struck and blinking, here.


This poem is based on the legend of The Green Children of Woolpit


Marc Woodward is a poet and musician resident in the West Country and has been published in anthologies from Ravenshead Press, Forward Press, OWF, and various magazines and web sites including Ink Sweat & Tears and The Guardian Web pages.

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