Tuesday, 29 November 2016

the depths of a treacherous mire

‘High bogs are acidic and nutrient-poor, eroding metal, leaching bone and leaving one German bog body, Damendorf Man, as little more than a flattened envelope of slithery skin.’ - from this magnificently information-dense b(l)og post.

They are buried deep, driven into the rich, aromatic peat upright, like the gateposts of the high feasting halls, intact, naked, the bruises already blossoming from the halter round their

necks, the rust-coloured water already seeping into their vertical tombs. When the turf is piled back on top, mistletoe is seeded there, to mark the spot before it passes from the memory of the living, and a stone is marked.

Seventy-seven years later, the body is dug up. The bones are gone: the organs and the viscera have withered: the skin is perfect, dark, supple, cured. The mistletoe and sphagnum moss fed by the body’s nutrients since its interment are burned, and the ashes are fed to the crumpled sack, its face frozen in an aspect of torture, its jaw prised open, never to shut again. It rasps: it jerks: it rises, manlike but empty, a skin pristine and shrivelled and unsupported, dead and undead, the utter opposite of a skeleton.

It makes no sound. It needs no sustenance. It is utterly obedient. It is impervious to liquid, to heat, to cold, to crushing. It twists and bends and folds: it can be carried in a pack, it can slip itself beneath the crack of a warped door, it can curl its body altogether round a throat and fix its ever-closed eyes on bulging, open ones: and perhaps as it looks into them and
sees the light there die, it remembers how its own died as the peat was stacked back over its head and the chanting was muffled forever.

Bog body/Moorleiche/Damendorfer: as a ghast, resistance to cold and bludgeoning damage, can pass through any space 1in wide and fold itself up to approx. the size of a human head. Grapples and suffocates. Bog witches and the like hang them in gruesome storecupboards until they need to set them on their enemies.