The tree’s shadow was a raven’s wing—
ragged, black, and riotously flapping
to the bellowing gales of the coming storm,
the winds cold, yet the season warm.
She waited until the sun had disappeared
behind the dark clouds that rose and reared
like black bears newly awakened from sleep:
angry and clashing, their roars loud and deep.
She went, then, searching for the three witches
as the forest struck her with its hateful switches,
and she came to the storm’s eye, where they dwelled;
a calm circle around which the vortex swelled.
The lightning crackled and the witches cackled,
each to the black cauldron was shackled.
The girl approached them, unhesitating,
while they watched her, silently wry and waiting.
“Did you summon the storm?” the girl asked,
“Or did it summon you?” The witches, each masked,
stirred the steaming, storm-funneled pot,
the broth of which bubbled sullen and hot.
“Take a gander into yourself,” the witches said,
“and know what it is that is in your head.”
The girl stepped toward the cauldron’s fuming funnel,
and dared a glance into that whirling, swirling tunnel.
She saw in the broth Hanna, the foreign maiden
whose beauty she hated, only now her body laden
with a humpback and warts and all of the features
that would ruin the most divine of creatures;
and she saw a prince, handsome and strong,
lifting herself to his saddle, amidst a festive throng,
and he had the face of the man to whom she gave
her virginity, thinking he would thereafter save
her from the mills and the cottage and the peasant life
and take her to his castle to make her his wife.
She saw the villagers who mocked her for a fool,
including her parents, now subject to her rule,
and relished how they kneeled and bowed
as she stood tall above them, beautiful and proud.
She saw, also, herself bedecked with jewels and lace
as her husband held her close and kissed her face.
And lavish banners were raised in her honor
while lords and ladies of the court fawned on her.
But as soon as these sights appeared, they dissipated,
and she saw images of what was true, what she most hated:
her prince adjusting his purple pantaloons as he rose,
shoving her aside as he struggled to put on his clothes.
Gruffly, he left that hayloft where they had embraced—
her maidenhood bleeding; no longer chaste.
“Who are you?” the girl whimpered, recoiling from the broth
as it bubbled over, slobbering like a lunatic’s froth.
“We are you,” the three witches said, “as you well know.”
The girl tried to flee, then, but found she could not go.
They doffed their masks: maiden, mother, and crone,
and they each had her face, and her face alone,
marking, with a map of ridged wrinkles, her future years,
mirroring her life to come, carved by heartache and tears.
The cauldron was her heart, the storm her soul,
and the rage and the sorrow swirled from that hole.
The blackguard’s fickle word, and betrayal,
had churned this fury, they say unknown even in Hell.
Her rage increased, like a whirlwind of annihilation
that gyred outward to level village, castle, and nation
with all of the powers of a woman thoroughly scorned,
her Hecate crown like the sickle moon, sharply horned
with all the bestial rage of her jilted pain
as the elements obeyed this vengeful Queen’s reign…
The guards found her at the first light of dawn,
babbling madly upon the diamond-dewed lawn.
She raved and clawed at the prince’s tower—
his wedding was moved to a later hour.