Photo by Greg Rakozy
I heard you say
that a circle of people
each owning their story
is a cauldron,
a vast pot
I heard you say we live in a time of witch-hunts.
I heard you say it’s been lasting
a really long time.
I heard you say that if a ring of magic makers
each acknowledge each other’s lived experience
then powerful spells of love and survival
are cast for years to come.
I heard you say you are exhausted
of defending your own lived experience –
that is to say,
your existence –
and sometimes you’d like someone else to wave a magic wand
and do it for you
for a change.
I heard some of you say
you want to speak up
for those who are tired
of defending their lives
and the stakes
but you are afraid you don’t have the right.
I heard some of you say you are sick of people speaking for you.
like looking at my reflection
in a giant pot of water,
our lips chant together
that there is a difference between speaking up because someone else is incapable
and speaking out
because our blood is boiling,
we are on fire,
because when we see our loved ones dragged over the coals
it burns us up inside.
I’ve heard enough women –
and I want to say people to include all of us, but I just keep hearing women say this –
I’ve heard enough women to form a coven
say that you are unsure if you should speak;
enough human beings
to form a holy gathering of lovers
of the earth and stars
wonder aloud if your own earthen kettle body
has a right
to boil water into sound,
and to shine;
wonder if you have anything to say
or if you speak too often
and say too much
and each time you asked
I saw listeners lean in,
each one place their ear towards your mouth
to receive every word.
I saw, on your lowered face, the reflection
of everyone who had turned away,
who had covered their ears, who had,
in your eyes,
diminished your meaning.
For everyone who told you to stop speaking,
I heard people asking you to recognize
those of us who need to hear
what you want to say,
who are longing to be
your sorcerer’s apprentice.
I’ve heard a handful of you willing to say
something happened to you so painful
that you don’t relate to anyone else.
I heard someone else
I heard you wonder if your story is too painful for other people to even hear.
I heard you say you’ve been shut down too many times already.
I heard you answer,
Then we will remember we have each other to turn to,
and the open air to exit into,
that if it hurts to hear I know it hurts to say.
Like a strong iron basin,
we will trust in our resilience,
knowing we were built to hold hot water.
I heard you say you’re still not sure what happened to you
or you’re doubting where you are right now
or you don’t know where you are headed.
In those moments I got to witness
you in the process of collecting information
as the ingredients to a very strong potion
and I would happily follow you
through the forest
of the rest of your life,
watch you gathering
this healing tonic
I would coven up with you.
I heard one of you literally say
the witches were burnt
and you are one of them.
I heard you declare you are still alive
and that your words are an enchanted mirror that speaks truth to power
and when you last held up that reflection
to those around you
you were called a heretic and you did not feel safe.
I heard you say,
you are churning your anger and frustration
into love and care
including for yourself
and learning new incantations
so that when you next deliver
you are not going to be burned this time.
I heard you say
is acknowledgement of your needs that have been met,
that a list of our needs fulfilled
forms a protection spell
that guards against hopelessness
and opens secret portals
I heard you say that you include yourself in your list of gratitude
to remind yourself that you have power
to give yourself what you need.
I’ve heard some of your voices stay quiet
pouring into a vast pot.
I saw you stir the pot
And make magic.