Imaginary Paintings: All Souls’, The Witch

ALL SOULS:  THE WITCH

~The Kilkenny Book of Hours, c. 1410

Outside, a half moon, waning.

Inside she sits by the fire, 

gray cat on her lap.

Her clothes are unremarkable

and her long gray hair is unbound

and mingles with the cat’s fur.

On the plain table, a wooden

bowl of apples. Garlic

and onions hang on pegs. 

A single dove shelters

on a rafter. A sudden wind

blows open the door.

 

 

This was originally for Pentecost, but I think it works for All Souls, too.

THE FEAST OF ST. WALPURGA

THE FEAST OF ST. WALPURGA

 

I have just returned

but before I sleep

I must record.

 

The moon was dark,

the sky was clouded.

Earthscent was rising

 

up from the valley

into the cold air

along the ridge.

 

We came in our silence,

lit the fire in silence. 

When they arrived,

 

we sang the words

to set them free.

While we waited then

 

for the flames to die,

while we waited

in our silence

 

with the long darkness

around us, a pair

of owls called 

 

from the forest

down in the trees.

A good omen

 

for the season to come.

The flight home

was uneventful.

WALPURGIS NACHT

WALPURGIS NACHT

Last hold of winter, grip of dark and cold,

our times of gathering close by the fire.

Tomorrow the maiden will strew flowers,

tomorrow the furrow, the scattered seed.

But tonight, once more belongs to the old

who know to sit quiet and count the stars.

Blessed sameness in the passing of years—

mountain snows flowing from river to sea,

trout lily leaves poking out from the mould,

rhythm of courting and birthing and tears.

Shall we gather tonight on the mountain?

Shall we sing together the last winter hymn?

Already the children dance by the fountain.

In the light of the sun, our fire grows dim. 

LIPSTICK

LIPSTICK

I bought one for the first time in decades.

Pomegranate red.

I’m wearing it.

What possesed me?

It has suddenly become important,

like the high heels Martha wore

the day she got her general’s stars.

Those men, suited or uniformed,

slick-shaved, striding to the podium,

and the unapologetic click of Martha’s heels.

This is the sound of it, I thought.

The shift. The change.

This is what it sounds like.

Did you listen close

while Nancy defended the kids?

A powerful old woman

dancing forwards. And not

just in high heels, but stilettos.

Did you listen to Emma,

the power of her stillness,

unashamed of tears?

 

Not for men’s pleasure,

these symbols of our power:

lipstick, high heels, short skirts.

Maybe it was Eve who woke me up:

This short skirt is mine. 

I am old enought to remember

Bella’s hats, first the necessity,

then the pleasure.

Maybe it was our hats,

those cute pink hats with ears.

We grabbed the derogatory,

transformed it into strength.

What change looks like.

Even tears are power.

It’s what we’re doing now

in our leggings and boots,

and running shoes and fleece,

our torn jeans and t shirts and hoodies

our shawls and scarves,

our nursing bras and aprons.

And yes, in our lipstick and four-inch heels.

MEMERE–prompt #75

MEMERE

Prompt #75: Invent a Grandparent

 

Once she stopped a runaway horse before

the horse ran over a little boy. The boy’s

father was so grateful, he got her pregnant.

He set her up in a shack on the edge

of town and paid her every month, enough

to get groceries for herself and my dad.

That grandfather died before I was born,

and I am just as glad.

 

Memere always had dogs, stray ones she tamed.

She could tell fortunes by watching crows.

I liked visiting her. Dad didn’t mind,

but Mother worried every time.

I used to sleep in her loft

on a feather bed she made.

She taught me how to kill chickens,

how to bait a hook,

how to build a fire with wet wood.

 

Memere had different names for the stars.

She had three books:

The Oxford Book of English Verse,  

My Antonia, and

Moby Dick, which she knew by heart.

She never did believe in God, she said.

What went on in the woods and sky

gave her enough religion to get by.

TEN RULES OF POETRY #2, #3, #4

RULES FOR POETRY, #2

You may write about anything:

clothespins

horse manure

the pattern on the underside

of a nuthatch’s belly.

 

You can’t write about a damned thing:

your mother

the lover who left

the deplorable state

of the world.

 

 

RULES FOR POETRY #3

Well consider grammar,

its all.

Worry about words,

their everything.

 

 

RULES FOR POETRY #4

Be afraid.

No matter what you write,

things will be revealed, secrets

you have concealed even from yourself.

Especially those.

 

Did you know, for example,

that you’re in love again?

Did you know that you never

liked your father, or the yellow cat?

That your house is on fire?

 

The witch who lives in the cave

under your bed knows everything,

throws everything into her cauldron.

So be afraid. You cannot know

what annealment will ensue.

April prompt #24

April prompt #24

A lullabyDavid’s #5

GRIMM”S LULLABY

 

Sleep, little one, sleep.

Nana will keep

the wolf from the door,

and the sisters with one eye

and three. The ash girl

is shaking the tree

grown up from her mother’s

bones. So sleep.

No one will slice off

your heel or your toes.

The witch in the forest

is far, far away

and the path to her house

is edged with white stones.

Her cage is empty,

her oven is cool,

and the hunter,

the spinner,

the prince and the fool

guard the door of your room.

So sleep.