The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®

 

Dayna Patterson

Thunder. Enter the three WITCHES meeting HECATE

 

Invoke her at your thresh-
hold, holy daughter of Nyx. Worker
from afar, hekatos. Queen

of Ghosts. Paint her on your lintel, liminal god-
dess, choosy protectoress, a fist-
ful of blessing to bestow.

Or withhold. Doldrums, or wind in the sail. Her herald:
a choral whine and howl. Her familiars:
a black bitch and a polecat. Spectral

at the place where roads cross, three-
bodied, or three-headed body—horsehead, dog-
head, lionhead. A mouth of moan, plea-

sure and pain. Tri-plicit-ous she, full moon, half
moon, new moon. Virgin and mother, mystery
-cowled daughter. Weave a wreath of yew, garlic, bella-

donna, mandrake. At the town wall’s portcullis,
at the fortress’s gate, she holds
daggers and torches, keys and snakes.

Tri
-morph
-ous.

From her cave she hears a daughter’s
distress, leads mother to omnivoyant light
and chthonic dark. Her credo: Round, around,

around, about,

about. Leave her a sacrifice of black
female lambs, of honey, of dogs, her

sacrament. Psychopomp. Eternity’s stitcher. Soul-
threader. Build her a shrine at the en-
trance.

 

 

Dayna Patterson

Thunder and lightning. Enter three WITCHES

 

A WITCH:                     Three foul witches fond of rhyme.
                                   Triple trouble tripping time.
                                   Chopped up beasties. Black-burnt pot.
                                   Sideways speakers. Crafty lot.

FIRST WITCH:               Geillis Duncan is my name.
                                   Midnight healings earned me shame.
                                   Under torture, I confessed.
                                   Many more I named as cursed.

SECOND WITCH:          Dr. Fian. Scholar, schooled.
                                   Pilliwinks and then the boot.
                                   Nails extracted. Iron pins.
                                   Learning, teaching were my sins.

THIRD WITCH:             Agnes Sampson. I’m a known
                                   midwife, healer, honored crone.
                                   Witch’s bridle pricked my tongue.
                                   Shorn. Thrown. Garotted. Burnt.

FIRST WITCH:               Scapegoats. Creatures out of time.
SECOND WITCH:          Triple trouble. Trapped with lime.
THIRD WITCH:             Chopped up bodies. Blackened knot.
A WITCH:                     Ghostly speakers. Ghastly lot.

ALL:                            Shakespeare wrote Macbeth to please
                                   James’s demonologies.
                                   King obsessed with witch’s lore.
                                   Pander-playwright fed him more.
                                   Fair is foul and foul is fair.
                                   Hover through the fog and filthy air.
                                   Yes, we haunt the “Scottish play,”
                                   shadows grinding axes—stay—
                                   not just three, but thousands more
                                   passing Hecate’s open door.
                                   Breaking bones. Breathing plague.
                                   Phantom vengeance center stage.

 

 

 

DAYNA PATTERSON is the Managing Editor of Bellingham Review, Poetry Editor for Exponent II Magazine, and Editor-in-Chief of Psaltery & Lyre. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Fourth River, Hotel Amerika, North American Review, Literary Mama, Sugar House Review, Weave, and others. 

 

 

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