THE COW WITCH                                                                   by Michael H. Brownstein

Have you seen the Cow witch?
 The one who seeks berries and tombs,
 A rose blackened by water
 Hard by the blossom tree?
 Tent caterpillars wrangle in the sun’s coils.
 There are the crows; there are the ravens.
 A horse runs as fast as a horse.
 The Cow Witch knows these powers.

 Search for me by the Crypt of St. Augustine.
 I have made my home there.
 Early morning I find the softening bark of cassia,
 River water, fresh fish, garden snails in the dew.
 Wait for the sun to reach its falling.
 I will be there near the heavy door,
 The fallen rock and cured sandalwood,
 Kneeling in the weed and thyme, singing.

 Near St. Louis gold grows in the clover.
 The Tree Men of Ashanti yearn for its fragrance
 And somewhere not near yet not far away
 Green shoots find doors through softer soil.
 St. George’s herb roots deep within root,
 Juno’s tears flower into pigeon wood.
 Here comes the vine that lives to strangle.
 Life and decay hold each other’s hand.

 The Cow Witch is an expert in hiding.
 She knows large cities hold more than sewage.
 She understands her neighbors by name:
 Naked Lady, the Borrowers, Porch Sitter,
 Those-Who-Hold-Court-On-The-Corner,
 The Corn Men, the Ice Cream Family.
 She knows them all by face and figure,
 Walk and gesture, voice and violation.

 My song knows only elf leaf and ivy.
 I pluck the strings of my kora,
 Beat the slotted drum, play the thumb piano.
 I own the harp tied between the giant oaks.
 You must come after the dew settles.
 I do not sing at night or morning,
 The time for rest and meditation.
 Songs are not work like bridges, like alleys.

 The Cow Witch will come when she is ready
 Like the calf, like the bridge over the valley,
 The Garden of the Sun and Moon,
 Like an empty place ahead.
 Heather dries in the light, seed swings to earth,
 Wind tangles music from my harp,
 And the farmer’s wife wakes, stretches,
 Calls on the bloom that may be spring. 

Michael H. Brownstein’s poetry volume, A Slipknot Into Somewhere Else: A Poet’s Journey To The Borderlands Of Dementia, was recently published by Cholla Needles Press (2018).

December Editor, Pat Daneman’s recent poetry appears in Atlanta ReviewFreshwaterBryant Literary Review, and Typehouse. Her collection, After All (FutureCycle Press 2018), was first runner-up, 2019 Thorpe-Menn Award and finalist, Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award. She is author of a chapbook, Where the World Begins. For more, visit patdaneman.com.

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