Monday, October 19, 2015

L'histoire de Baptiste Turcot

Over the spire of Notre Dame du Cap,
the half moon hangs straight up and down.
Baptiste Turcot sings a ballad of love.
His horse picks his way through elm and oak.

He’d dined that night in a Québécois home
met Marie Madeleine Duteau DuTaut.
He’s riding easy, lulled by his hopes,
when he spots glowering golden eyes.

With a snarl the beast leaps to attack.
His horse rears high to escape horror’s bite;
Baptiste quick with his knife spills the blood
of the Devil’s own Wolf, the Loup-garou.

True to French legend, he becomes one too:
A man by day but useless and ill,
a monster at sundown driven to kill.
For one hundred and one demented days,
keep the secret to break the spell
or forever be damned an Unholy Wolf.

Baptiste swears to hide deep in the woods,
survive through the days and nights all alone,
fight his own evil through the dreadful time,
tear only animal flesh, spare human kind.

Late, this same night, in Trois Riviéres
as the half-moon hangs straight up and down
young Marie Madeleine Duteau Dutaut,
slips out to the garden for tender May air.

The rose silk of her gown dances, rustles.
A light wind carries the song she trills
from her father’s house to the dangerous forest
where the new Loup-garou hears her and howls.

With uncanny speed he climbs a great cliff,
spies the glimmer of pearls sewn onto the bodice
of the mademoiselle’s first Parisian gown,
scents lavender soap come by ship from Provence.

During cruel months of spell-bound lust for blood,
Baptiste hides from the hunters he could easily kill,
fights the sickness each day, the Devil each night,
endures, finally triumphs to reclaim his soul.

His first day of freedom in red maple October,
he rides at full gallop to the farm of Dutaut,
speaks to the father of his love for the daughter,
and at Christmas they marry, trembling hand in hand.

Eight of their children survive past five.
The Turcot farm prospers on the Île d'Orléans.
But if he’s alone in the forest, Baptiste will growl,
and he dreams every night he’s the Wolf, Loup-garou.