Death of a Wood Witch
image - Adam Bird Photography
"It hurts," I cried. "I know," replied the Witch of my soul, "And look, the Forest beckons." So it did, once more, a thick underbrush of reckless vines, criss-crossing the broken parts, stitching them anew. The churned Earth seemed to crumble underfoot, loose and unstable, broken down from all the wandering back and forth, back and forth, without real rest. "The roots remain, deeper down," she croaked, knowing what was in my mind of course, "Nothing is ruined. Not unless you stagnate and sink." "I can't," I whisper, "Because then they win." She nodded, knowing all about the ghosts of our past, who had no real power but chattered on as though they might. Fleeting terrors in the dream realm, nothing more. But still their barbs held poison and it was important not to get struck down. I had bled myself dry again, for those that did not deserve it. "Why do I do this?" I whisper, knowing the answer. "You keep trying to love broken things," she responded, or perhaps I did, who knew really as the darkness enveloped the forest, "To prove they are deserving. So you are too. But it doesn't work that way does it? They just take and take and take..." She gestured to the exhausted plants, drained of all their nutrients in barren soil. The result of the selfish natures, the egotistical harvesters, the cruel and the malicious. What a nightmare. Was I waking up from one, or into a new one, I wondered, pitying the plants that gasped their last. Parts of myself, of course. Dead and not coming back. Then again this pain is familiar, traversing it all too common. The body ripples with the stress of it, purging out into the forest. "Get the poison out," The Witch nods, as though it is not ripping me apart from spine to skull, and stealing all of my dreams. It will pass though, it always does. Such is life, I tell myself, inconsistent except in the inevitability of change. I plunge on, trying not to wretch anymore, though my breath constricts in the dew heavy air. The forest is solemn, listening to all of my regrets, my mistakes, and then those things I will never miss and am grateful for their absence. "At least these are good examples of the type of woman I would rather die than become," I muse to the trees, knowing that wild claws and fangs are very different to those parasitic hooks that drain people dry. Take, take, take and spread that poisonous fume, droning on and on with vile laced words... what a tragic waste of life. No, I know what I am not, and that, I will never be. I will make sure of that. "Flawed enough though," The Witch reminds me, and I nod. It's not hubris that steers these thoughts, it's the horror of being a witness, and refusing to let that become a part of me. I think that is as close to evil as I might ever have come. Even though most of my life has been spent seeking out the humanity in people. Thinking there must be good in all. "Close escape then," comes a Spirit whisper on the wind, and so, I suppose, it is.
I find myself at the centre, the clearing, surrounded by the circle of trees. Sanctuary. "Here I have come again to die," I whisper, and step over the threshold. The air ripples and the energy lifts from the soil, electric and humming with my every step, as I ascend the stone altar, feeling its weight beneath me. It greets me in memory and knowing, for this is no virgin death, and I lay down, my eyes streaming with the sadness of it all. "They hurt me," I say, and it all rushes outwards. "I know," says the Witch of my Soul, "And the Knife beckons."
I open my eyes and watch her then, this reflection of me robed in shadow and star, as arms outstretched she chants the ancient words of endings. It is time, I know, for this ending, and I mourn for all that is lost. She strikes, quick and true, plunging it into my heart. It is done, And we are One again, And She keens for the dead girl I have left behind.
- Joey Morris 2020
image by Joan Coral