The man ran as if hunted, staggering through the sunny glade,
Blood dripping from many wounds and from his battered blade.
He came upon a low rough hut, and for the door he made.
Though rumors gave him pause a beat, many things he'd heard before,
He knocked once, then collapsed, fell in a pool of gore.
"Who's there?" a woman asked, through the door, then it opened up a crack,
She looked out and down upon the broken and bloody wreck.
"Help me," he pleaded weakly, bending up a weakened neck.
"Know you not whom you ask?" she said, "And what I might ask you pay?"
No answer came, for consciousness had from him fled away.
"You'd not go much further alive," she said. "Your wounds gape so wide."
She opened up the door and gently pulled him inside.
She fetched for him the broth she'd cooked, for her eventide,
As she stripped him, saw on his right arm, tattoo of an eagle spread.
She gently bound his bloody wounds, and carried him to bed.
She spoke many puissant spells, to heal his injuries fast and sure,
She washed his gaping wounds with rare potions clean and pure.
She fed him gruel, dosed with herbs, his inner hurts to cure.
All day and night she worked away, to heal the sorely wounded man,
But two days later to her door came a band of men.
"Your pardon, goodwife," their leader said, when she allowed him in.
"But we traced a man here, who slew one of our lord's kin.
"His arm bears an eagle and his head, rich reward will win."
"Some man came, but fled in fear," she said, "I know not which way."
"He'll not get far," he replied, "So we'll bid you good day."
The men returned on the next day, saw a man and horse outside,
The man leapt on the horse, and the other's leader cried,
"Halt," and he was ignored, as away the man did ride.
A crossbow sang, the quarrel flew, true and straight to the mark it sped.
The man fell off the horse's back, to lie like he was dead.
The horse pulled up, nearly broke down, and looked back curiously,
As one of the horsemen rode to search the man's body.
"He's dead, all right," he called, "Clothes and features show it's he.
"And he bears the eagle on his arm, most surely 'tis the same."
"Get the horse, and bring them back, the lord's bounty we can claim."
So the leader ordered, his man went to take the horse in hand,
A whistle came, the horse ran free, by the witch to stand.
"What brings you back here, and why did you slay that man?"
She asked. "He is the one we asked after," the leader replied.
"We could not trail him away from here. Goodwife, had you lied?"
"He might have returned, another way, to steal that horse and flee,"
She replied. "All he owned is ours in the lord's bounty."
So he said, and she replied, "The horse was hurt sorely.
"I was keeping him to tend his wounds. Leave him here awhile.
"You'd surely not take him away." This with a flirting smile.
He met her smile with a leer, turned to speak briefly to his men.
"You may keep him here," he said, "Until we come again."
"May I ask you return alone, without all of your men?"
She asked. "You decide how to divide one horse among your crew."
With another smile, "Our business should be between us two."
The other men protested, but he then shouted them all down,
"As you wish," he said, and then they took the body to town.
She gave her stallion's neck a pat, and reached gently down,
'Neath his off foreleg pelt, the shape of an eagle spread to trace.
"You have cost me a horse," she said. "And, for now, you'll take his place."
The leader returned a few days on, the bounty'd dressed him fine.
He stopped by the stallion's paddock, smelling of fine wine.
The witch asked him into her house, to talk as they would dine.
The stallion grazed, outwardly calm, though he wondered what they'd say,
'Til from the house, a man's loud cry, turned to a horse's neigh.
>From her house, the witch then led a mare, in heat, as he well knew,
The mare was dazed, unused to her form and sex so new.
When the witch drove her to his pen, he knew what to do.
"You wanted him? Now, he shall have you." she told her would-be lover.
She drove the mare through the gate, the stallion her to cover.
When he dismounted, the witch came to him, and gently stroked his head.
"Now all of those who sought your life think that you are dead.
"And I now have another horse, but you've much to pay," she said.
"If you well serve and service me, well doing all I might say,
"My eagle bold, just a year you'll serve, as my steed by day."
That night, the witch came quietly to the stallion's sleeping stall.
"You'll serve as my steed by day," said she, "But that's not all,
"That I will want of you." He was a man, at her call.
She lay with him, and when morning came, he was a stallion again.
When she awoke, she asked of him, to service her again.
"So you've made me a were-man now?" he asked, when she came the next night.
"In a way," she laughed. He asked, "But what if you I bite?"
"Don't worry, and be thankful you did not get it right,"
She said. "If I were caught in the spell you wear, a mare by day,
"To turn back, I'd need human voice, so horses we'd both stay."
The day was fine, and she fed him a dose of her magic brew,
A spell she said, he was eagle, unsure he first flew.
She took him out, rode the mare, some hawking for to do.
He soared and stooped, and made his kill, and brought back to her his prey.
She thanked him, then said her word, he trotted their homeward way.
The next day as fine, she made him eagle, and she brought a bell.
Then she drank the brew herself, and said another spell.
She rang the bell, was an eagle, with an alluring smell.
She leaped into the air, calling him, he followed with delight,
And they would spend the day around, in eager mating flight.
Their passion spent, they flew together, coursing the land around,
Until she led him surely back to their own home ground.
He raced her there, to be the first, to make the bell to sound.
"Thank you, my lusty stallion eagle," she said, a woman once again.
She said the word, and deep in thought, the horse regained his pen.
"Could you not have lent me wings?" he asked, when he was man that night.
"So that I might have left my hunters, in an eagle's flight?"
"I could not be sure you'd ever regain your form right.
"If dusk returned you," she said, "Next dawn might make you bird again.
"I could not think of another cue, to surely reach your ken."
"Your enemies would seek you yet, and also strike at me,
"If they should have heard that I had helped you so to flee,
"And your own honor would bring you back to repay me.
"Now they are all satisfied, that you are buried dead away,
"And last, my lusty stallion, I wanted you with me to stay."
By day, she rode him, hunted with him, loved the man by night,
And flew with him and ran with him, in the broad daylight.
Her belly began to swell, her clothing soon got too tight,
The mare's heats soon halted, she wouldn't offer him her hole,
The woman said, "Our potent stud has both his mares in foal."
The mare, in time, did drop a colt, a frisky and healthy one,
And the witch was also delivered of their stallion's son,
A boy unto the waist, and thence a colt's body did run.
When next she made her stallion man, she said, "I now set you free.
"But wilt thou, of thy own free will, please stay and marry me?"
He finally agreed, and she said, "One thing I'd ask of thee,
"Not man nor horse, but in between, I think we should be,
"A proper dam and sire for our son." He did agree.
They drank her brew, a spell she said, half-way change met the sun.
Now stallion, mare, and colt, by day, they all as centaurs run.
Sagittary copyright 1996 by Dr. John Filpus.