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Repetition ritual for summoning the good witch

by KT Herr

          On a large screen I watch ice-
                              fisted hail shatter a windshield. Something about storm
                                        footage gets the beams of my body
hot. Thrumming. Like they could lift
                              & land in some swifter place. Later, a real storm

     tramples Florida. The air conditioner
                              exhales to a halt, then clears
          its throat coming back on. Between its purrs & gurgles
                                                                           I’m itching for a pattern

     I can touch. I twist the blinds closed
                       & open again. Fingers of my left hand calloused
                            from someone else’s chords. Think: I must be waiting
                                                for a sign. Something about joy

          makes me foolish, lets me believe in nonsense
                                                        like destiny. Diet pills. Stimulus
                                              packages. I go & go

     out into summer’s wet
             pulse, where geckos can’t quiet
                                              their ode. I return & return. Songs earned
                                       & thieved dwell in my hands, my throat; then scatter
          like leaves to line the walk. Something…
                                                maybe when in the act of opening

           my door I pause, expecting a cat
who’s not there to badger out. A sign of what? I made story
                                                from dream, brought love’s stink
                                                                                            like a bad witch
                                                               with me in the gale. The cat

           is back in Michigan. Maybe he sleeps
                                                on top of her. The symphony of frogs
                                     will not abate. Diligent spiders try & try
                                to dress me in their silks. Night is a feast
     of blood aloft on tiny wings, & she is
                                  eaten from me. Before I ever

                   fell in love, I wrote a song
                                               whose chorus went: come out, come out,
                               wherever you are. I was channeling

     the good witch. I need her pink
                                         benevolence; her snow, chilling my heavy-
                         lidded poppies. I trim
                                         my nails, clunk sodden heels, wonder if I’m
                                                                                  awake. Wonder which fold to pinch
                                                  to send this body home.

Poet's Statement: This poem arrived last summer during a residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Cornelius Eady, our mentoring artist, urged us to consider collaboration, hybridity, overlap, and poetry-as-song. I was falling in love while also, still, for a long time, out of love. My body hadn’t spoken to me for a while and I struggled to listen. The air; the insects; the storm-thrashed foliage; the Oz-like dreaminess of the Florida bush all collaborated in a sort of attempted translation. Then I translated their translation into this poem.

Bio: KT Herr (she/her) is a queer poet, songwriter, and curious person whose poetry is published or forthcoming in Frontier, Quarter After Eight, Dream Pop, and others. She currently lives in Oak Bluffs, MA, where she teaches remote poetry classes, flirts with neighborhood skunks, and regularly sharpens her kitchen knives.