What They Did to the Witch’s House
We used to play there, before she was found out.
The walls are full stone, river rock, smooth, and shiny to the touch.
The witch would knead her clean spinster fingers to
Our baby breath faces and say smell. It was always rosemary.
The witch taught us how to spin candles out of tar and pitch,
To mother the wicks straight, hang them to dry like new bones.
She taught us to coax soup and other potions from the hearth,
To spin a flame from no flame, to hang flowers from the rafters
So they would last all year.
Twelve winters go by. Our fathers and
Their sons set the witch’s house on fire.
The doorway made of flame, the roof of
Another flame. Two orange and flickering
Lines like half a cross, like a sign burning
In the night sky too sharp to see. A dog
With yellow eyes slinking into the forest,
One day, we will marry these men.
What They Did to the Dog with Yellow Eyes
She was a mother once.
In the rain that brought the flood, she gave birth to six new babies,
Slicked the mud and oils from their backs with only her tongue—
A muscle, a claw, a tooth aimed just out of the way.
The simplings of motherhood.
After the flood, I saw her, just one pup in her jaw, eyes
Shining in the fog like the shivering plume of a lighthouse.
Of course, dogs cannot cry, being only bodies
Acquainted with the world so briefly,
But we doted on the mother and child anyway:
Bones, the sinews of our stews, fleas flicked from jagged ears.
Gifts they could not know but only love. When they laid at our
Feet during morning chores, we sang them psalms,
The way our mothers did, though we fear (as they
feared) they do not understand.
A fortnight passes. We rise early and perform
Our rituals, but now we are alone at our spinning
Wheels, no mother keeping vigil, no pink tongue
At our heels. I ask sweet Johnathan if he knows
where the dogs went. They kept getting into the henhouse.
So you took them out to the forest and shot them?
And then the other one,