How Witches Die

By Jennie R. Leishman

A long-toothed woman has lain in this field all winter,
Waiting for the earth to take her
Back, waiting to melt like the snow,
To water the spring
Lilies, then rise up in a thousand
Nodding white heads

She has come to this field for years.
As turkeys thaw on kitchen counters
And tine white lights go up all down Main Street, she pulls
On an old brown sweater that used to smell
Of cigarettes and Old Spice, stuffs
Her pockets with old photographs and jewelry,
Shuffles away, full of faith, humming
Some old ditty from when she was a girl.

She always leaves the front door open.
On the sidewalk, brides saunter, holding
Hands with their young grooms
Fresh from the chapel and smelling
Of carnations and cream cheese mints;
They hesitate and train
To catch a glimpse of someone at the stove,
Someone stretching out on a recliner
In from of the television – suddenly they will want
To hurry on, seeing the house
Is really just a senseless head, mouth
Propped open by a swollen tongue.

In March you can go to the field
And find the old woman rising,
Hair matted and fat behind her head, skirt muddy and
Wet.
Thinking of passing again through the gaping,
Mute hole her house, she’ll pause:
Fingers clenched and eyes shut tight, she’ll try
To shoot down roots and clutch
The earth to her in a thousand tiny white fists.