The Word Witch

October 30, 2011

The earthquake is finished, the flood is over,
even the plague of ghosts was completed a long time ago.
Why, you can see for yourself how the tower
is struck day after day by the same bolt of lightning.
Truth is, we are only speaking today so that the Word Witch
can become a sort of reminder of all that has been done.

Sure, you can still ride your broom up to the top
of the tower. You can still peer through the tiny windows
and see the garden down below. Go ahead, dream of the vast ocean
as it sweeps across the fjord in a muscular arm
of waves and foam and sea, but remember the Word Witch
remains an experience in which you cannot believe.

I mean, what if she was never there?
What if she was never stooped and waiting
for the ocean tides to clear her ancient tarn of snakes?
What if she was never lost while looking about the garden,
sanguine as a primrose? Why, what if she had never thought
to be the Word Witch at all, not even for a day?

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6 Responses to “The Word Witch”

  1. John Stevens Says:

    I like the riff on halloween here. Good timing.
    This is one of your puzzles, Jim, and my head is a bit “end of week” so I’m wondering what to make of the Word Witch: who is she, what does she represent or what thoughts should she introduce? She is gender-specific, she’s a ‘sort reminder’ of all that has been done, but she might not have appeared or ever have been there. Well, I’m thinking she’s the poet’s Muse, putting in an appearance at a dramatic time – when she is needed.
    There are some fine strong images here: the tower and garden; and “the vast ocean
    as it sweeps across the fjord in a muscular arm
    of waves and foam and sea” – magnificent that!

  2. extrasimile Says:

    Who is the Word Witch? Well, it might depend on if you’re hearing the poem or reading it. Hear ‘the word witch’ and of course you think of the word ‘witch’, which will take your discourse to a different level. You’re talking about a word now, which is different sort of witch. Read ‘Word Witch’ with those capital letters and you might think it’s someone’s name. Try Word Witch in an introduction, though, and it seems more like a title. ‘John, I’d like you to meet the Word Witch.’ But we’d better write that introduction down. I don’t want you to think I’m introducing you to a pronoun or an adjective or even something which my dictionary is calling a ‘determiner’—especially as this witch may be only a name for something that (or is it ‘which’? I was never good at determining that.) is not there. Or may not be there…unless the ‘I’ in the poem is addressing the Word Witch herself (You can still ride you broom up to the top of the tower)in which case, the word which—no, I mean witch word—might exist but only for the life of the poem (and how long is that?) which is truly scary—though it might make a good costume for Halloween… clear the cobwebs out of your head… Just be sure you don’t scare the kids when you answer the door…
    ‘Go ahead, dream of the vast ocean/ as it sweeps across the fjord in a muscular arm/ of waves and foam and sea….’
    Magnificent? I’m blushing—though, come to think of it, that maybe the answer to your question… as it sweeps through the center of the poem.
    (John, I confess. I had far too much fun answering your question. It’s only 7 AM here.Perhaps I should get more sleep. Jim)

  3. John Stevens Says:

    Ha! I’d completely missed the pun. Bottom of the class again, I suppose …
    Clever though. Wish I’d thought of that one myself!

  4. Thomas Davis Says:

    The hours is late here, at least for me, so I am a little hesitant about commenting on this, but I find it all wonderful. The Word Witch in the world has been haunting me most of my life, struck day after day with the same bolt of lightning, and frankly I’d like to get to the top of the tower and see my way to the Garden. The problem is the Witch keeps brooming around and making me believe in the earthquakes, the floods, plagues, and revelation in general, although, I have to admit, that there is a possibility that she really never thought she was a Word Witch, which, in my world, would create a little sadness, and perhaps joy, especially since her tarn of snakes would not wake me at night with the idea of original sin–or something like that.

  5. extrasimile Says:

    You know, Thomas, you have the makings of a poem here. I often think the best response to a poem is the freedom of another poem. A favorite quote of mine is from Wallace Stevens. ‘The poem is the growth of the mind of the world, the heroic effort to live expressed as victory.’ Enough said?

  6. Thomas Davis Says:

    I believe you are a great poet and reader of poets and poetry.


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