The Burning of the Witch
In the mornings, my trepidation is as present
as dew drops, soft and refracting, like tiny crystal balls.
I’m trying to reconcile the disasters in my mind,
trying to awaken myself. When we touched honesty
with our bare hands it was incandescent and you pulled
yourself away from it like it was a hot stove top,
you didn’t want to smell the burnt flesh of your palms.
You didn’t want it to brand you for the rest of your life.
In the mornings, I still want to touch that flame. I want
to be marked by it. To feel kinship with the others
burden by honesty, I’ll open my chest to it. I guess
it’s because I grew up practicing witchcraft. I learned
it from my mother. How she’d stow away trinkets,
cinnamon sticks, and old matchbooks. I grew up
romancing the moon’s shedding skin and cutting my teeth
on little alchemies, liquids in rocks glasses.
Now, I’m a grown arsonist. I have a cauldron full
of your little league baseball cards and chablis
corks. I try to summon with you with incantations,
I sit at my altar, living in salt. In the mornings I try
to communicate with you through tarot cards
and 80s songs and Yeats poems posted
on my instagram. In the morning, I try to tell you
my love is a fire that burns clean.
Without a second thought
I sent your Capricorn sun
to the gallows in exchange
for limerence and third chances.
But everyone after you was just
a different iteration of the space
you left behind. Their names on my
phone screen like shallow etchings
on forgotten headstones.
We could’ve had a place
on Vine Street, and filled it
with cats, a wedding
beside the willow, a hundred
more years. Instead I sit shiva
with my feral, adolescent heartache.
I salt my doorways and sheet my mirrors,
and try to remain gentle with myself despite
this inherent vice.
She said, “Everybody loses
the thing that made them,”
And I’ve grieved for you for so long,
you feel like folklore.
The blood blooms in the bowl. One drop, two
drops at first. In quick succession. And then
a gush. And then it was all over.
Across state lines, you felt a sharp pain, a
pinprick in your chest. For you, it was
That winter split me
like firewood. I was smaller,
splintered, Elliot Smith would play
on cassette in my blue Volkswagen
while our breath coursed
through flared nostrils and damaged lungs.
I hid my pain like a sick dog. I slinked
out, under the back deck,
I swallowed some pills.
In those hideous places
I can still smell the acrid, peaty heat
of your breath, reeking like remorse.
But even though you swore that you left
I still caught you shoplifting.
Greedily, you shoved
every broken piece of me
into your pockets.
The more you took, the more
I couldn’t help but remember you
feeding our cats, their tails licking
around your ankles like muted flames.
And now I’m jealous of people
I don’t know. I want to be that stranger
sitting across from you on the subway.
I want to claim the dust you leave behind.
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