Vox Populi

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Alison Luterman: Witch Walk

The witch who advertised her services

on Facebook walked us around the lake,

talking about herbs that heal and what we could gather to eat

if big oil failed, if the stores all closed and the lights went out.

She wore a lace dress over some kind of tracksuit;

feathers and dried flowers crowned her dredlocks.

She told us she’d had a nervous breakdown,

and in the hospital a schizophrenic friend on the ward

confessed that trees spoke to him. They spoke to her too!

So maybe they weren’t crazy. Maybe the trees were talking.

Released, she headed for wilderness, and renamed herself

Phoenix. Risen from ashes. Now she leads witch-walks

to show people what’s under our feet: broadleaf and marshmallow,

garlic grass, chamomile, mugwort, comfrey.

Plus at least nine hundred

different kinds of sage–she spoke of its myriad uses:

cleanser, hex-remover, sanity-restorer–and I thought

of the nine hundred different kinds

of knowledge there are in this world,

most of them invisible.

I don’t know what I’d expected–a portal, perhaps,

to magic me elsewhere, but she spoke only of a slight shift

in perception, that which might allow

a tiny purplish wildflower to be a doorway.

She wanted us to view Heaven

as already manifest here, on Earth,

even amid the rubble and desolation

of our unraveling, yes, especially then,

she said, if we can sing through these throes,

our lives, too, might become beautiful as weeds.


Copyright 2020 Alison Luterman. From In the Time of Great Fires by Alison Luterman (Catamaran 2020).

Alison Luterman is a poet, essayist and playwright. She lives in Oakland, California.

Bee balm is full of vitamins and minerals and is traditionally used as an herbal remedy for colds and flues.

One comment on “Alison Luterman: Witch Walk

  1. Eileen Szabo
    May 5, 2022

    I love this poem! It speaks of all the fragility and strength, all life’s and nature’s mysteries in a simple and lyrical way. Thanks Alison for saying it the way you do and feel. Thanks to Vox Populi for publishing it!

    Liked by 2 people

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