Apr/May 2002 Poetry Special Feature

The Witch's Doll

by Jennifer Finstrom


The Witch's Doll

Earth is stronger than wax.
That's what I tell all who come
to learn from me. Go out at night,
you who wish to make him love you,
wish him to regret
he was ever born. Go out at night
when the moon is swerving
toward full and find a pool of water
that reflects the stars
like the headlights of his car.
There, scoop mud into your lap
and tell it secrets of your beloved.
Is he lost, foolish, unfaithful?
Should he find death, be punished,
suffer torments for a lifetime?

Earth is stronger than wax.
It will always answer need.
The mud that you hold like a baby
should be given limbs,
a head, a name. Shape it carefully
with the force of your suffering.
It will have no mouth, no ears or eyes.
Will eat dust, drink blood, answer only
your heart's fierce whisper. It is not he,
this doll that you hold. It is the union
between you, the deadly bond burning,
an umbilicus of fire.

The night I shaped a body in my hands,
I could feel him somewhere, twisting
in fevered sleep, as if all that held
him to this world would fray, snap,
and sever with a final click.
I sat, my body half in water, viscous mud
spread thick across my thighs.
Above me grew a tree. White blossoms
fell from it, tiny men in parachutes
hoping for rescue. They fell in my lap,
my hair, on the feautureless face
of that thing I had made. For a moment,
given eyes, my mud doll asked
a silent question, a formless plea,
a prayer. The moment passed.
I smoothed away petals, rounded
mud to nothing, returned that baby
that he got on me to blindness.


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