Patricia Nelson

Witch

—The witch speaks to Hansel and Gretel

How gladly you forgot it all, how easily 

the flutter of light around me went away, 

the chittering forest of the fairy tale.

 

First my fingers, then my crooked steps, 

then the glances knotted with a hook. How I stood 

with my nose upwind of all the crying.

 

You forgot the copse with odd things 

at its border, thorns and edges, itching and stinging—

and also the soft dark wandering dream. 

 

The dream that holds the circling things, 

the round swarm, the dancer, the wheel. 

The bend and the edge. The dream that warns.

 

You’ll find that edge again, your own wish to devour 

with hand and eye whatever you thought you wanted. 

Your fists will lengthen like thirsty shadows.

 

You’ll see again the strange, collapsing light,

confusion filling the space like birds, 

your eyes twisting as you fall through the dark. 

 

You who cannot help but scatter 

in your dreams, your tattered stories, 

the winking trail, the crumbs of light.

 

They allow me to see you still,

to be suddenly close like the smell of rain,

the small dark circles one upon the other.

 

The color of ghost

that is suddenly everywhere, 

more permanent than you.

 

Patricia Nelson is a former attorney who has worked with the "Activist" group of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her most recent book is In the Language of Lost Light, due out this year from Poetic Matrix Press.

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