To banish an enemy from your home,
sprinkle salt in the doorway as they leave.
Saturn oil, a black candle, and the right words
will bind someone to you. Spin blood
into sugared syrup to entice
even the strongest will. These things,
I have learned from her.
I notice things now I didn’t before.
The wind whispering, conversing
with the sighing trees in a language just beyond
the reach of my understanding. On walks in the woods
I see any number of beings out of the corner of my eye —
sprites, spirits, gnomes, nymphs, faerie.
Each night I leave out two saucers of milk:
one for the fat soot-and-grease man who lives
behind the oven, and one for the skinny,
mossy creatures who live under the porch.
People think I’m mad, tell me
none of these things
are real. Even my brother
shields himself from superstition
with a cloak of scientific theory.
But they had said
there was no such thing
as witches either.
I never told anyone I wept
when the old witch burned,
my tears sizzling on the hot bricks.
I still see her sometimes
in empty ovens,
her hair dancing
on updrafts of heat.
Her cruelty had been a blade
that never healed.
I hated her, but I had learned,
and I was sorry.
Author's Note: This poem was first published by Chiaroscuro (ChiZine), Vol. 44, April 2010.
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Over the Hill and through the Woods (Attys)Poetry
"Over the Hill and through the Woods" is a collection of poems inspired by fairy tales and folk lore. It will also be home to the poems I intend to submit to the Attys. Cover art is by Ivan Bilibin (edited to suit my needs) and is in the public do...