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.
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.