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The Death of Bridget Cleary, Abby Leigh Mangel

[March 15, 1895. Ballyvadlea, Tipperary County, Ireland.]

A woodworker killed

his wife in the brush

behind their lowland

cottage. Convinced that

she was a changeling,

he immolated her

alive inside the

circular ruins,

a fairy hillfort

leftover from pre-

history. She was

twenty-five or six

according to some

documents, but what

difference is one year

to the fairy folk?

Constellations move

slowly for immortals—

runestones carved into

night. Doused in oil,

the fine linen of

her smock first caught fire.

Flames licked her pink skin

under the sheer night-

gown that she had sewn

herself. Her mouth curled

in a knowing smile.

Her murder too would

someday be folklore.


Abby Leigh Mangel is a PhD Fellow at the University of Texas in San Antonio.

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