I’m trying to get at the idea that women and others who refer to themselves as witches very often do so because in the first place they have been marginalized because they cannot be pinned down in the rigid categories of the religious establishment. The label or identity of witch does not necessarily mean that one situates herself outside the bounds of church or religion, but that her spiritual practices or ways of seeing the world and the holy are threatening to the religious status quo. Witch may be a chosen identity marker, but it may also be an identity conferred by religious dogmatists. Although I have been revising and re-revising, it still feels to me as though this is a poem in process.

Witch (noun) wich,
a word used by the spiritual gatekeepers
within religious and social establishments
(no matter how nominal their own piety)
to denote those who cross the hedge
between the status quo and the wildlands
of spiritual inquiry.

the witch is an excuse
the witch is a scapegoat
the witch cannot be catalogued
the witch will not denounce her truth
the witch disrupts the proceedings
the witch does not offer herself up
to be easily understood

What they do not understand,
they call the Devil,
and banish and punish and shun.

When difference is disciplined,
how do the tamed ones
manage their sameness?

What they do not understand
is that they will snare themselves
in their own rules of order.

For when one question is proscribed,
who knows which questions
will lead to the mine field?
Better to eliminate questions altogether.

the witch is feral and free
the witch is both/and
the witch is a shapeshifter
the witch will ask a thousand questions
and expect more questions in response
the witch has already given herself a name

Gratitude List:
1. A winter-bare tree filled with crows in a drizzling mist
2. People who trust my essential goodness and don’t require me to prove my piety
3. Lunch and good conversations with beloveds
4. The joy of the last week of school before vacation
5. Clean windows. (It’s been a while. Don’t judge.)
May we walk in Beauty!

“The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, goodwill to all.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Organic images are destroyed if we subject them to linear thinking. How often we judge them as “bizarre” or “weird.” They need to be allowed to grow like plants in a spiraling movement. They carry emotional and imaginative energy as well as intellectual meaning, and as they spiral they are illumined with nuances of feeling. Hence their power to bring wholeness.” —Marion Woodman

“We need beauty because it makes us ache to be worthy of it.” —Mary Oliver

“Beauty is not a luxury but a strategy for survival.” —Terry Tempest Williams

“The insects and birds and animals are singing themselves into being; this autumn land is dreaming and I am part of that dreaming.” -Sharon Blackie

“I am out with lanterns, looking for myself.” —Emily Dickinson


Oh dear. It’s getting late, and I have been grading or reading all day. The prompt is a two-fer: Write a Free/Not Free Poem.

I wear these papers like shackles,
dragging the ankles of my brain
into a constant state of bondage.

Teachers develop a seventh sense,
an awareness, always, of the piles
that wait in a bag or on a table,

so even when I walk in the sunlight
or finish the novel I have been reading,
the shackles of inadequacy hold me down.

Always Free

<Prompt 26: Write a (Blank) Free, or Free (Blank) Poem, or both>

The poem that I wrote yesterday was in a Spanish form called shadorma.  Six lines, 3/5/3/3/7/5.  Today’s poem is also a shadorma.  I love the name.

You are free
to tell your story
as you please.
Always you
are free to shift the plot or
wander off the page.

2013 November 158 2013 November 149
The 1719 Hans Herr House and The Longhouse recreation

Gratitude List:
1.  Naps!  Especially this part: While I was napping on the couch, Joss found a blanket and carefully covered me up, then found another and fell asleep with it on the floor beside me.  When we woke up and I thanked him for taking such good care of his Mama, he walked over to me and kissed my hand.
2.  Parent-teacher conference.  Really, we have lucked out (seriously lucked out) with an amazing teacher for Ellis’s first year.  She likes his smile.  And his careful deliberation in his work.  And she loves to teach.
3.  Two people in my circles who have been on ventilators are breathing on their own, both waking up.  Thanks for all your prayers.  Recovery may be long and arduous, but the first bout of anxious waiting is coming to an end for their loved ones.
4.  Crossword puzzles
5.  Wool sweaters and hot tea

May we walk in Beauty.