the coven

they sit
shoulders hunched against the cold
fingers tightly grasping scalding cups of liquid
a motley group of women
some aging thin and bony
skin wrinkled in homage to the sun
others plump and fecund
sporting short skirts and teetering heels
whispering secrets not their own
they watch those who pass them by
the innocent
the unsuspecting

eyes narrow
as through the fumes of weed
they see a victim

she passes
unaware

they take her life
they stretch it out
and snip and cut and tease
and weave and stitch
embellish and paint it

summoning their powers
they cast their creation to the winds
it shudders mid-air and then takes flight
a work of art
of artifice
it blows from woman to woman to man
to friend to foe to stranger

the witches sit back
and watch their work
well pleased
then
coffee cups down
cigarettes in their shoulder bags
they leave their table in the mall
to collect their children from school

 

This poem won the Joan Johnson Poetry Award (Tuggerah FAW) for free verse in December 2005. I received an engraved trophy for it – best prize ever. It was also published in the Melbourne CAE newsletter Degravings in May 2006.

©Catherine Merrick

 

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