The Witches

Turning the traditional view of witches as evil hags on its head…

Upon a moon-filled night in wattle shack
Three spinsters huddled over cauldron black.
Their mission? To cook up the perfect brew
To heal a village lad whom they all knew.

They each had been alone for many years
And learned upon their own to face their fears,
For each of whom were many, being widows;
For life was cruel to those who’d lost their beaus.

The first one to her peers: “Now in the ginger.
Stir it well. What caused the lad to injure
Thus himself? Do either of you crone-mates know?”

In answer did her wizened helpmeet crow,
“I may be crone but I’ve a mother’s heart;
That’s why I undertake this witch’s art.
From sympathy I am compelled to heal
Despite the ignorance of common weal.”

The third now chimed in too: “But we’re still hags,
Condemned for lack of beauty to pick fags
From forest floor and huddle by the fire,
Unwanted by the young; no hope of sire.”

The first one spoke again, with spoon in clutch:
“And now the lavender, but not too much;
This special potion needs a gentle touch.”
The first hag crumbled leaves into the broth.
The others stirred, as her voice rose in wroth:
“Oh, curse that Tommy Simpleton! The lad
Should not have been so careless; it were sad
If he should pass. What tragedy, to end
So young. With perfect potion we must mend.”

“Curse, you foolish boy,” the others chimed,
As they stirred on, and full moon higher climbed.
“Oh Tommy Simpleton, we witches three,
Prepare this magic potion just for thee!”

No sooner had the hag encanted so,
Than shadow interrupted moon’s white glow,
And piercing shriek cut shreds into the night,
So shrill it gave the healers awful fright:

“It’s witches! There be witches here! Come help!”
They recognized him then, the wailing whelp:
“Is that not Tommy’s younger brother Jed?
What means he to be here and not in bed?”

The snooping waif kept caterwauling on:
“Watchman, help! They mean to poison Tom!
Then soon arrived the gendarmes of the town.
With halberds quick they tore the shack walls down
And seized the healing spinsters; kicked the broth
Onto the ground, and spat upon the froth
As all the life-restoring brew in dirt
Seeped down, to wet the moonlit dust, inert.

“Our potion! Our concoction you’ve destroyed!
We cooked it so that we could save the boy!”
The women healers wailed and begged the men
To let them loose to make the broth again.

“No more will we allow you hags your curse;
Stop struggling or you’ll just get it worse.
Tomorrow ride ye three inside the cart,
To pyre we’ll set up in village mart.
There ye witches shall make final coven
While roasting on the spit of outdoor oven.”

A cruelty it were to tell you more,
Suffice it that they burned, then healed no more.
Soon Tommy died without the witches’ aid,
And this made Tommy’s little brother sad.
But grief soon gave its way to exultation,
Because he had the whole town’s adulation,
For he had rid the town of mortal threat,
Without the slightest whisper of regret.
And ignorant he stayed as he grew tall,
‘Twas he who’d killed his brother after all.


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