Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tuesday Poem: "Book of Shadows" from the Witch Series


Book of Shadows

Her book. This book,
spanning all the time she’s been allotted.
All of them neatly folded and tucked
between two of its pages –

Father, so long Dad,
so long, his legs, his darkness,
hang(s) out bookmarking gloom.
All of it yellowed by beer,
river water running under the bridge
as he hurled himself down and slipped under.

Mother, hello Mother, saying goodbye,
her phantom breast, its tumor shadowing
a line across her chest. Her kitchen simmering
with delicious mystery, kindnesses from
strange men, her wild waitress friends.

Their separation, the chasms it multiplied --
his family’s disapproval, their withdrawal,
the brittle crackling facts of abandonment.

Catholic school, Sister This, Father That,
their stories about martyrs 
bloodying page after page,
the few teachers who took 
an interest in her, the poetry
she wrote, a string of A pluses 
strung up like prayer flags.

Witches she knew and admired.
Witches she loved and feared.
Animal familiars. Animal tutors and chaperones.
Dogs and cats, foxes, hares, elks, bears, elephants,
her fear of mice. Crows, always crows 
disposing of carrion, gathering 
shiny things, squawking at the moon.

Then the rituals, her intentions
floating away from her,
seeding the future, her hands tying knots
for stability, a candle burning against
the wall, the flash of residual ashes
that let her let go, Loved ones on
moonlit nights, as they hung
from high branches,
twisting on the breeze,
tiny outlines of dollies
bearing messages
to the underworld,
litanies of hope, yearning,
praise and blessed be.
Little parcels weighed down
by rocks underground,
what needed or wanted burying.

Spells for babies wanted by friends, for babies
who had to be given back before birth,
love spells, sweet mingling of cells 
as they decompose, healing 
tokens of friendship and admiration, 
talismans for courage or protection,
planted in tree trunks around her house,
spells chanted over water, over food to
enhance its nourishment, over little heads
while they’re fast asleep, spells to ease the body,
lift it away from pain.

All her optimism and acceptance tucked into
this book’s many leaves, her life a wheel
turned by the earth’s steady compass.

She can feel herself growing lighter,
as the shadows take on weight.
The wildness, the weediness in her,
the roots reaching out from between
its pages, all of it flimsy and fleeting.
The sun moves across each day
in a woman’s life, leaving behind
this dance of dark upon light.
It feels to her like enough.