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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