December 8, 2021

Which Witch, By Wendy Purcell

Editor’s note: The use of folk magic in this poem, along with its economy of words, paints a truly magical picture for the reader. And I love the twist at the end—you will, too!

You can keep witches from your door   

With two dead cats        

Underneath your floor.

To guard against witches’ evil looks

Press four leaf clovers

In a heavy book.

A better way to keep out ill        

Is a jar of broken pins

On the windowsill.

Both mistletoe and the rowan’s wood  

Will keep out the bad    

And in the good.

Add horseshoes nailed to the front porch posts

To give fair warning

To the devil’s hosts.

Then cross your fingers behind your back            

Throw salt past your shoulder

Don’t step on a crack.

Because you see it’s all their doing          

The still born calf             

The failed seed sowing.               

Behind the guise of midwife and nurse 

A witch works her evil   

And plants her curse.    

If you work these charms free of fear or doubt

God will dwell within

And the witch without.

Don’t dwell upon that disquieting glitch

That if your spells work

Then you’re the witch.


Bio: Wendy Purcell was a nurse, now she writes. Her short stories and poems have appeared in [Untitled], Braindrip, Unusual Works, Every Day Fiction, Vautrin and The Haibun Journal. She lives near Melbourne, Australia and is often in her garden that is both too big and yet never big enough.


Broken lock Image from Pixabay.


George Ivanoff said...

Yes... loved the twist. Delightful poem!

Marina Butler said...

Love it - especially the twist!

Samantha Bryant said...

LOVED this :-)

Unknown said...

Delightful Wendy. I would take your advice in full, but two dead cats under the floorboards might be a big ask!

Sharmon Gazaway said...

This made me smile! Nice title:)

Jaya Avendel said...

I am loving the rhyme in this poem, coupled with clever reference to myth and practice!

HulderMN said...

Surprise gotcha at the end
Makes one question the "simplicity"
Of the poet-friend. >>wink!<<
Well done!