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the witch’s house

Francesca Kritikos

her canopied house, the one the trees
bent over as if hiding her shame,
burned down last year. we were there.

we smelled the smoke in the air,
heard the sirens. we had all done our time
peeking through the mouse-chewed holes

in her garage door, flattening her fat
plants to sniff the concoctions of her
garden, as if we could taste her poison

on our child-pink tongues. we had
never seen her, but we knew the things
only children can know,

the way witches make vibrations
in still summer air. we felt them through
the hot asphalt where we loved & hurt

each other. she made her way into us –
witches are always impostors, too.
our thick & plump hearts stung

as we ran past her house like
victims & thieves, like everything.
her house burned down. we were there.

now the trees are gone: her shame melted
with her & the rubble is her punishment.
dead or alive, we don’t know.

we never saw her, but we felt her bites,
we felt her knock out our milk teeth.
they are gone now, like the trees.

‘the witch’s house’ was published in 2016 as part of the UEA Undergraduate Creative Writing Anthology, Undertow.

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