by Matthew Stokdyk

there is a witch
in the kettles
whose house
is in a subtle glen.
she brews
in a lakebed cauldron
and picks her teeth
with arrowheads.
she only
emerges in the fall, summer
too humid for her toadskin,
winter too dry
for her warts.
she is pale when she rises
from the mud,
til she sucks color
from the leaves.
the hikers don’t know
she makes the world
yellow, and if they did
I reckon they’d think
it was a gift,
and not just a hunger
for green flesh.
she scuttles out to the road,
when a truck careens
and kills a deer
and she cuts it open with her teeth
and reads the rutting entrails.

moths beat on her windows,
their wings on the frames
and bloodying their heads
on the panes.

and at the solstice,
on the wind:
oh leaves, oh leaves
she hums,
your mothers grieve.
oh leaves, oh leaves
she sings.
cold winter comes—
I’ve got to leave.

so she hikes back down
to her coven hole
and sleeps
to the sound of snowflakes.