Autumn Witch by Kelsey Helton

In the eyes of the autumn witch 
The captured cobweb droplets
Form lectures 
And the whispers in the dry wood
Give prophecies 
A walnut by a pond means death 
But drink in the sweet mullein smoke
To feel your breaths ease 
Pop an acorn cap to study the ridges 
String it with silver to keep safe 
Turn your pockets over 
As you pass the graveyard 
So haunts can’t hitch a ride 
Put out copper and cinnamon cream 
With your jack-o-lantern 
For the black cat spirit 
To taste
Don’t step in the circle of morels 
And never give your name 
But learn the difference 
Of black and blue cohosh
When a baby’s on the way 
If something moves 
In the moonlight 
And calls out for help 
Lock the door and load the gun 
Sleep with an iron nail 
If the crows come alone 
To the cornfield 
Prepare your heart for hurt 
And if the snakes nest 
Under the pickup 
Bury a stitched lemon 
In the ground 
Heal the briar scratch 
With woodstove cider 
And granny’s favorite afghan 
On your lap 
Holly and honey roast
Come in on the late November breeze 
And the autumn witch knows 
Her time is short 
But if she is anything 
It is patient 
And the mason jars of okra 
Will last till she is full 


Kelsey Helton is a junior at Leslie County High School, whose work has appeared in The Notebook and local newspapers. She spends her free time salamander hunting, stargazing, and hopes to study environmental science. 

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