The Witch-Girls

The Witch-Girls
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.)

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