by Theodora Goss
The witch-girls go to school just down the street.
I see them pass each morning with their brooms
and uniforms: black dresses, peaked black hats.
They giggle just like ordinary girls,
except that as they walk, their brindled cats
twine around their ankles. One will stop
and say, “You’ll trip me, Malkin,” scoldingly.
Then Malkin will look up and answer back,
“Carry me then.” The witch-girl will bend down,
scooping the cat into her arms, and perch
him on her shoulder. So the witch-girls pass.
I wish I could be one of them. Alas,
I don’t know how to fly on windy nights
or talk to bats, or brew a magic potion.
Although I think I could be good at witching.
I’d learn to curse and never comb my hair.
I’m pretty good at scaring passers-by
by making goblin faces through the window.
I’d trade white cotton dresses for black wool,
no matter how it itched. I’d fly my broom
up to the witches’ garden on the moon
where they dance nightly, kicking up their heels
with sylphs and fauns and ghouls. At least I think
that’s what they do. I don’t think witches go
to bed at nine, or even make their beds
each morning. No. Instead, they marry toads,
or live alone and read old books. They paint
landscapes in Germany, or climb the Alps,
or sit in Paris cafés eating chocolate
for lunch and maybe dinner. They get drunk
on elderberry cordial, speak with bears
on earnest topics like philology.
I wonder what the witch-girls learn in school?
Geometry that helps them walk through walls,
and how to turn a poem into a spell . . .
I wish that I could go to school with them.
I’d giggle and be wicked too, if they
would only let me.
(This image is “The Little Witch” by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite.)
I would like to be a witch girl, too!
I love this poem!
This speaks to the little witch girl in me. It also reminds me of my daughter’s favorite picture-book series, years ago. (Truthfully, it was my favorite too!) The heroine is Dory, the little witch, whose hat is always on crooked and whose socks never match. Her mother has a job being an adult witch, so Dory usually goes in search of her own adventures. Author is Patricia Coombs. Now they’re being reissued: great news for the new generation of mothers and daughters!
Oh yes, those are adorable books! 🙂
This is now the highlight of my day. Thank you.
Thank you all so much for the kind words! I’m very glad you like the poem. I’m having fun posting poems, and will probably post more as I write them . . . 🙂
Once upon a time, I wished I was one of the witch-girls. I wanted to be them but I didn’t know why I wanted that. Or perhaps I knew why but couldn’t find the courage to admit it loudly, not even to myself. E s c a p e. I looked and looked, I was standing on scorched earth and every grass was greener, the witch-girls’ side the greenest. But I didn’t know anything about them and everything I thought they were, I wasn’t and never believed I had a chance to be. So I resigned to my so-called fate, or so I thought. Then one day, after I learnt of the meaning of the word “escapism” and understood what it meant for my life, I realised the grass had the same colour everywhere. Then I found that each witch-girl was unique but all of them shared one common trait: the courage to embrace who they truly were inside. And then, one day, I discovered I was a witch-girl too. I had always been, but couldn’t recognise or acknowledge it until the wounds had started healing. Pure magic.
Beautiful poem Theodora and resonates so much inside, thank you so very much.
Aura, that’s lovely. You are most definitely a witch-girl. 🙂
The moment I read The Witch Girls, all I could think of was Akko from Little Witch Academia.
(…Took me a while to find the video online.)
I’m pretty excited that Malkin is likely a nickname for a cat familiar Graymalkin, as I truly love that word! (Despite its awful societal connotations, probably because I’m rather a witch girl myself…)