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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.

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