Today’s Prompts were New World, and Control.
The Crone Speaks
by Beth Weaver-Kreider
How will you enter the new world when you get there?
How will you even know you when you have arrived?
Will a score of gleaming knights on black stallions
ride across a causeway, trumpets blaring?
Will the forest path end abruptly at the top of a windy cliff
high above a roiling green sea?
Will there be a hidden doorway behind a veil of vines
in the back corner of a neglected garden?
I see how it is with you, Princess.
You knock on the door of my cottage—
so brave of you to come to the witch for advice.
You’ve got all the steps memorized, don’t you?. Admit it.
One: Learn to spin and to weave.
Bake bread. Learn to sing.
Speak the truth, but in stories.
Two: Take a walk in the woods,
though all have warned you against it.
Don’t forget to put into your pocket
the doll your mother gave you.
Three: Be kind to the Old One
sitting at the crossroad
who asks for your bread.
Four: Offer your service to the crone
who lives in the cottage
made of wishes and bones.
You’re a conscientious follower of the tales, you are.
No leaf unturned, no story left untold.
You have folded your heart
into an origami bird, ready for flying.
The only crumb you missed
on the way to the house of the witch
is this one: The whole point,
my dear—the sole purpose
of this journey
is that you learn one thing—
You must relinquish your control.
Offer the story to the birds who come
to collect the crumbs on the pathway.
The Old One who asks bread of you
seeks not the loaf you have carefully prepared
for the purpose, but the one
you’ve been saving for yourself.
Your mother’s doll will offer good advice,
but the tool you most need you will find on the way.
This story, your story, isn’t intended
to follow the formula you studied with such care.
The truth you found so dear in all the others
will not guide the plot of your own.
The Guide you seek might be a tree,
or a stone, or a wide shallow river.
Find your own signposts.
Seek your own star.
Learn your own recipes
for kindness and bread.
And please, close the door on your way out.