The Thicket Witch

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Chapter 2

XII

Concurrently, she kept her peace,

minding her own without surcease,

delighting in any caprice

that struck her to enjoy.

Though mundane souls forsook her realm,

many a Fair Folk claimed an elm,

and soon she grew fast overwhelmed

by troops of fay envoys.


XIII

From high and low, from near and far,

did come a host of the bizarre —

the Good Neighbors by Northern Star

convened and settled in

amongst the valleys, under hills —

and to the ponds went those with gills —

and more, and more, and more, until

she thought her head would spin.


XIV

“Oh, make for us a wingéd goat

that sings sweet hymns out from its throat

and sheds silk from its undercoat!”

one elf of rank adjured.

And others called for honeyed rain,

for fruit as gold as ripened grain,

and other whims hard to attain

they asked her to procure.


XV

But empty-handed they did not

come a-calling as she thought.

All gauds and folderol were bought

with worthwhile wares in trade.

With winsome bounty she was plied

of such stark largess that belied

their inborn nature to misguide

poor fools in escapade.


XVI

“We know it well how mortals be,”

said one dryad sat in her tree.

“And only their inconstancy

is what all share in wont.

To you they come as they did us

for favors, and then pitch a fuss

when we show them their due distrust

and bid them to avaunt.”


XVII

And so her haunted woods became

a haven to any with aim

to do without the galling game

of fencing with Mankind.

An ease was donned as if a cloak.

In concord did those Gifted folk

strove to forfend the loathsome yoke:

being ever maligned.


XVIII

“A novel treat it is,” quoth she,

well deep within her forestry,

“to live amongst ones much like me

who need not to be told

the whys and wherefores of the rules

of which I choose to cull out fools.

Oh, if but one of those daft mules

could fit a likened mold!”


XIX

The years passed on with small ado.

The thicket hedge – her wall – yet grew

with alt and snarl that most of who

sought entry were deterred.

The truth of why it came to be

that dark forest held infamy

was lost to human history,

ne’er more spoken nor heard.


XX

For scores and scores she kept within

her wooded realm as much akin

to wrathful wolves who’ve ever been

possessive of their grounds.

All of the while, the wildwood trees

that bent to her authority

grew into great monstrosities

with whetted thorns abound.


XXI

Fay beasts that called her forest home

grew ghastly in the fall of gloam,

and any soul that dared to roam

therein met their demise.

“Beware her blighted woods!” professed

the scores that feared the sorceress.

“To seek out that grim pythoness

would be most ill-advised!”


XXII

In way that all lore came to be,

the tales of her spread like debris;

hearsay became as history,

casting her as the fiend.

The tales of her were told with thrill

as frightful fables to instill

the thought that wizardry caused ill,

and she the quarantined.


XXIII

And so another stalwart soul

was painted black to suit the role

contemners thought well fit to dole

despite no fault of theirs.

And when, at length, the time did come

that her stout heart stilled in its thrum,

there were none left with the wisdom

to know how she was erred.


XXIV

With orphic craft she was endowed,

to Man and Beast she went unbowed,

and till the end she was uncowed

despite all that went on.

Beyond a twisting river strand,

within that thorny thicket stands

yet still a humble cottage and

home to a witch now gone.

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