To Sheila

When I was a child
there was an old woman in our neighborhood whom we called The Witch.
All day she peered from her second story
from behind the wrinkled curtains
and sometimes she would open the window
and yell: Get out of my life!
She had hair like kelp
and a voice like a boulder.

I think of her sometimes now
and wonder if I am becoming her.
My shoes turn up like a jester’s.
Clumps of my hair, as I write this,
curl up individually like toes.
I am shoveling the children out,
scoop after scoop.
Only my books anoint me,
and a few friends,
those who reach into my veins.
Maybe I am becoming a hermit,
opening the door for only
a few special animals?
Maybe my skull is too crowded
and it has no opening through which
to feed it soup?
Maybe I have plugged up my sockets
to keep the gods in?
Maybe, although my heart
is a kitten of butter,
I am blowing it up like a zeppelin.
Yes. It is the witch’s life,
climbing the primordial climb,
a dream within a dream,
then sitting here
holding a basket of fire.

Mountain Witches

How could I be anything but a witch having grown up, and now, once again living within the green majesty of these beloved Mother Mountains?  Within these forested hills and deep, dark hollers are women who have never called themselves “witches.”   Women who have never entered the incense scented New Age Witch shop in town.  They have never worn a pentagram, or attended a Pagan drumming circle or danced within the sacred circle on a full moon esbat, and, yet, they know their folk medicine well, they are intimately familiar with the native herbs and roots, wild life and moon phases.  They know when to plant and when to harvest. They are wise women, keenly familiar with the streams and the rivers, they are strong and they are sweet.  Their bare feet have walked upon the earnest warm earth, soft, freshly tilled soil seeping between their grateful toes. Within the knowing hearts of these unashamedly robust mountain women lives the sweet lullaby of The Great Mother, they are proudly maternal souls.  

West Virginia is a sage mother.   Growing up between her generous breasts leaves a child with a life long sense of belonging. She fills us all with an eternal longing for home, no matter where we roam. Within our hearts and minds we remain connected to her hills, her creeks, her valleys.  The pull of the moon over her mountains, shimmering upon her exotic forests sustain us, our memories are fond and they are charged with the magick of folklore and legend. 

What rural child has not ceased their folly to rest their warm, damp backs against the lime refreshment of a cool mossy bank on a hazy, lazy, humid afternoon, or fallen fast asleep on a plush carpet of grass  beneath a Red Maple or Knotty Pine tree when the merriment of a searing Summer day has left them limp with carefree childhood exhaustion?   What Appalachian child has not plucked a fat purple grape from the arbor and savored it’s roundness before that first splendid purple blast of flavor made them smile with wonder and delight?  It is only natural to be spellbound by the beauty of our wild, wonderful, Mother.