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The Lethifold by Oregonian

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Poet's Note: "The Lethifold is a mercifully rare creature found solely in tropical climates. It resembles a black cloak perhaps half an inch thick (thicker if it has recently killed and digested a victim) which glides along the ground at night... Once its prey has been sufficiently suffocated, the Lethifold digests its food there and then in their bed. It then exits the house slightly thicker and fatter than before, leaving no trace of itself or its victim behind."
--Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
Only the Patronus Charm is effective against it.

The Lethifold

I am a Lethifold. I need to eat.
Cold-blooded, deep in caves and places dark,
one meal suffices for a long, long time.
I go now to replenish and consume.
In black of night, I seem as blacker still.
As snakes glide smoothly, I am smoother yet.
As owls strike silently, so too do I.

They know me now; they seal their cottage doors,
their windows screened. Although I peer inside,
they know I cannot penetrate the mesh.
Like black-furred bats who travel in the night,
blind-eyed, but sensing everything around,
I sense the victim bedded in the room.
Oh joy! A big one, stout and corpulent.
A whole night’s work to eat him, flesh and bone,
a whole year to digest him in my den
far-hid in thickest jungle, where I dwell.

I glide around the house. If any see,
no more than moving shadow do I seem,
where gusts of wind wave branches to and fro
before the silver moon. I seek a crack,
a tiny aperture, an opening
below the wooden door, above the sill.
A half an inch, nay, even less than that.
I have not feasted since October last,
and since my body is so very thin,
scarce more than just a sheet of parchment now,
the slightest space affords my entering in.

Ah yes! The fool, he thought himself secure,
and scarcely does he hear me through his dreams
as stealthily I slide beneath the door,
a quarter inch’s space, if even that,
but ample for a Lethifold like me,
fixated, single-minded, on my meal.
I glide across his floor and reach his bed,
then, sliding upwards, gain my goal at last.
He is so very warm, so soft, so full
of blood and juice and life—the perfect meal.
A moment’s work envelops him around.
No chance for outcry or for combat made,
his arms are bound, his breath is snuffed; he gasps
and chokes and flails—and dies. And I begin.

I feel a kinship with that far-off plant,
the Venus fly trap, which, like me, entraps
and then devours creatures, living meat.
The panicked flies too late know their mistake
and from their deadly jail cannot escape.
Their struggles fade until their feeble forms
are gradually dissolved and then absorbed.

The same do I. By magic powers I
dissolve his body from the outside in—
the skin, the muscles, drop by gory drop.
Nor bones nor teeth, no particle of him
is spared. All taken into me, he shrinks
as I, in turn, grow fatter, thicker, gorged.

The night is far spent when at last I rest
. No fragment of my victim now remains,
not even bloodstains on the sheets. His life
was sacrificed for mine. I can return
before the sunrise to my hidden den,
and there digest my over-generous meal
for several months to come. I leave the bed
and glide, a little sluggish, toward the door,
less nimble now than when I first arrived.

I reach the door and seek the little crack
through which I entered half a night ago.
But now it almost seems that it has shrunk.
I ask myself, “Can it have been so low?”
With shock I realize that I have grown
too thick to exit through that self-same crack.
Trapped in this room, and sunrise coming soon!

My frantic thought: “There must be some way out.”
I glide around. There is no other door.
The mesh-screened windows offer no escape.
Perhaps the roof! Might not there be a space
twixt plates and rafters, left by careless men?

Alas for me, no careless space exists.
This room was built too skillfully for that.
No op’ning save the crack beneath the door,
admitting hungry Lethifolds, but not
affording egress when the meal was o’er.
Like flies in Venus fly traps I am caught.
Lo, the entrapper now himself entrapped.
The predator, by his own heedless greed,
has sealed his doom and on himself has preyed.

Do pythons ever seek a tiny hole
in chicken house or pig barn, to devour
an animal, then bloated, fail to flee
until the angry farmer with his hoe
discovers them and kills them with a blow?

The sun arises. Neighbors at the door
are pounding. “Up, get up! What? Yet abed?”
They pull the door ajar. Their faces blanch
to see me there, then simultaneously
three wands are out. “Expecto Patronem” cries
resound within the room. The blazing light
incinerates the monster and it dies.