In the House of the Witch

Beatrix is from Marble Head. It is not lost in me that it’s just north of Salem.

She made her way to the Northern Midwest, traversing with her now dead and long-divorced husband. Years ago.

I snuggle up in this tiny Strega Nona’s home. Her Apple-like and wizened cheeks, bright smiling eyes and slightly crooked nose, hair the color of snow.

Beatrix beckons me to her warm couch.

Now settled, with a woolen blanket I breathe a sigh of ease entering her sanctuary.

Offers of tea, wine, and cheese, a bar of dark chocolate or two, are made. I gladly accept. My feet tucked up under me. I glance about for her cat, Scout, who I know will come to rest upon me soon enough.

Beatrix, I say, tell me a story. She smiles and says that’s not my style. I smile back and know this is not a denial, just a simple truth that my friend, happens to know of herself.

I let the night unfold.

I glance about and see small tinctures, dried herbs and flowers hung upside down, clay objects, pieces of art delicately placed on dusty shelves. Icons of the Virgin Mary, small poems of Mary Oliver framed in twigs. Things I briefly, lightly covet.

Beatrix listens to my stories instead. She offers me more victuals, lights a small candle. Before I leave late into the night. Around the witching hour, she asks if I want to know my fortune.

I do.

I pull a small stick from a canister the words take my breath away.

Fortune in hand I wonder, had she and I lived in Marblehead, back in the day, would she, would we, have survived the trials?

Or would we, like scarlet sisters have ascended the wooden scaffold and hung like fruit on the vine.

Should that have been the case, I feel convicted that my hand in her bird-like hand, we would not deeply fear the fate before us, but rather Sweet Bea and I trust that we will make our way through time and tremors to this Time.

In her new house, where we now hatch plans for the Second Coming.

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