by Alexandra Seidel

A dead sigh cloaks the night like the wedding dress the bride
fog and mist converge to form curtains for your eyes
the wind knows words, learned them on a whim
and wings that are no angel’s wings
make you think of heaven’s chained up gates

it is not longing that carried your feet to the witch’s door
nor the aching of coals, red with fire’s breath
not even the mandrake’s strangled, hushed up cry made you go
it is the forms, they say, she takes, in midnights black
with chant and sorcery, crested half moon when she spoke a word

and the dead rose to dance in circles round her smile
babes sick or stolen from their cradles, maidens barren,
livestock dead—all that, and the promised key
to your redemption, heaven’s gates unchained
This is the right thing, is it not? Naked flesh

dragged from the witch’s bed, curses screamed and spit
but the cross is a shield against all this evil, is it not,
and iron holds any woman firm enough, even the witch
They all confessed to pain’s soft prodding, did they not
but not she, she smiles and smiles and smiles to herself and

you feel how that smile haunts you in your shallow dreams
A torch is lit, the pyre built, better safe than sorry
and you hope that flame’s smoke will take
your fear with it, uncertainty, because you feel
beneath the cross gleaming hot on your chest

that not all of it was lies, that some of it knew fact
and the witch, the woman sorceress singing
with the crackling flames
proves it in a way, for you, cursed thing, at least she does
and leaves you feeling foolish, feeling lost

faith abandoned in those flames
your beastly features fouling mirrors, blinding eyes
feeling hungry yet, you bramble-bound demon that was once a holy man?
off you run to flee the flames you set yourself
—your dead sigh cloaks the night like a wedding dress the bride … 

If Alexandra Seidel were a season, she’d be spring; if she were a color, she’d be sunset red; if she were a sound, she’d be howling wind in mountain cliffs. She writes, and her writing has been published or is forthcoming in some fantastical places: Star*Line, Labyrinth Inhabitant Magazine, Sybil’s Garage and others. You can read her blog here:

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