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Daughter of White Witches

I grew up with women who talked to plants.
They sweetened their roses with cold coffee grounds,
planted eggshells under lilac bushes,
threw their soapy dishwater over the place
where gently planted tulip bulbs waited to bloom.
Their tea leaves were inspected for lovers
about to arrive (or depart), their hair-pins
placed in concentric circles to appease
whatever beauty gods might live and all the time,
their lips gently taught me the rules of life -
be kind, learn to find happiness in the smallest of pleasures,
remember to thank the unseen before planting a seed.
They are all gone now, buried like bulbs
that will rise golden and white in the Spring,
leaving me to care for very old books of recipes and spells,
drinking instant tea that leaves no surprise at the bottom of my cup,
though when the moon rises in gleaming fullness,
I tend to walk empty sidewalks at midnight,
my lips moving in words I cannot yet understand -
I am the voice of women who talked to plants,
speaking through me, very much alive.

8 Jan 09

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this is good blog, but it's not poetry in the sense that it seems written from the heart, rather than with the keyboard. there's so much in this i can relate to, having lived with people like this, and coffee-ground and talked to geraniums several times in my own life. and i'd like to know more about what others saw as the frailty, perhaps, of that life, but i'd rather know what effect knowing others, from a distance -- not the person -- had on the author. i have opinions on the entire universe, but i don't feel i understand the universe at all.

somehow, there's no poem in this -- it's a comment on how the author feels, but it's not an evocation of more than 'need to chat'. really and presumably, the author was nourished like a plant and grew into a flower.
 — geckodrome

I'm sorry you can't find the poem in this, Mike.  This is a tribute to the grandmothers and aunts I grew up with, the women who called themselves white witches, delving into herbal 'magic' and spells cast more with powerful prayers and rosaries than blood and eye of newt!  They are still with me, powerfully.
 — Isabelle5

'tribute' isn't poem in itself, and i tried to suggest that i knew these women myself too, and that this simply didn't say anything about them except that the author had some thoughts about them. i'm suggesting that a poem about yourself as the product of them would have been 'magical'.
 — geckodrome

I'll have to think about that, thanks.
 — Isabelle5

I believe this is beautiful. I know this is great writing.
 — unknown

prove it. give your critique on 'great writing'. why should anyone believe you? what are your credentials? this is a 'writing workshop'. isn't it?
 — unknown

give us a name to know you by, unknown. this is just rude, and really seems like parody. if we knew you as a poet, we'd know how sincere you were in this -- we'd have read your critiques on poems. why not give yourself a name and critique this poem?
 — geckodrome

I know this is great writing, and that's all there is too it!!
 — unknown

The name is not needed, and the knowledge of the name gives a power over that name, and anyone who knows this level of mysticism knows they do not reveal their 'true' magickal name.

A name is not a definition, though it does help others to have the power to define, label, kill with that name.

I have read this piece a few times now, and have enjoyed it, as writing and knowledge, I am found some of it pleasant as verse, but I do not kniow it as poetry yet.

The subject matter is deeply interesting to me, however.

this is not a bad read..
 — Mongrol

Blessed Be.  
 — unknown

This is great writing and you are shit.
 — unknown

Ooooh...Wicca!  This is written with great honesty, however, I'm finding the poem to be scattered within a great deal of prose.  If there's a way to reduce most of this in order that the "poem within it" can be revealed, I would advocate for this to happen; it may take a little bit of work though to mold and shape it in order for this to happen.  There's very little rhythm amidst some potentially powerful images.  What I AM feeling are pieces of a very feminine memoir.  L20's verb does not to agree with the subject, so what I might suggest for that line is to remove the "it is" and just flow right into "the voices of women...".  Hopefully this helps.  I might also suggest mentioning any books of shadows which may have contained the aforementioned recipes, spells, etc...Hope this helps and indeed, as the last unknown says, "Blessed Be."  :-)
 — starr

Putting aside the argument of whether or not this is poetry - the writing is excellent. If poetry isn't your calling I think you would write some very meaningful, beautiful prose.
 — stackpop

I'm with stackpop too, Isabelle.  Your writing is always beautiful and meaningful,  be it poetry, prose or whatever.  You have an innate ability to pull what's inside of you up and out and put it forth to those with whom you wish to share it.  Your stuff is always enchanting to me and so full of experience/adventure.  :-)
 — starr

yup - i'll go with stackpop and starr too - i guess when you click a link we expect a 'poem'.. oh dear i mentioned that word ;)

but as writing this is fine prose, with a direct humanity, not afraid to show itself..
 — Mongrol

Well, this is certainly a lovely glimpse of memory; nice imagery and sonics scattered throughout.  really love the eggshells under lilac bushes.  
L5, sounds better if "tulips" was singular, "where tulip bulbs waited..." (i suggest getting rid of 'their' in that line aswell.)  it is a bit too 'listy' for my taste, it goes on a bit too long there, kind of like i'm waiting to hear more about the lilac bushes and what the eggshells did for them.

the second stanza finds me most uneasy as the read was difficult to follow, maybe the some wording and flow is interrupted.

i love lines 13-16, my fave.
(could you also say 'suprprises' as singular?)

nice poem, prose or not,
as it's probably not something to fix.
 — jenakajoffer

sorrie about my typoz
 — jenakajoffer

Well, there is such a thing as a prose poem (ie, a prose work that has poetic characteristics such as vivid imagery and cocentrated expression) and I think this falls into that category.  This is well written, with deep, thoughtful feeling.
 — PaulS

agreed - nothing to fix here :)

my appraoch is always one of 0 expectation of poem or poet, so what is found is often a little velvet pouch of gems ;)
 — Mongrol

 — unknown

Jen, thanks for pointing out the tulips bulbs, that is a typo that I never saw.  I also like the suggestion of singular surprises and cup.  

I need their in line 5, as I want this to be very personal, their things, not just random.  
 — Isabelle5

As for the prosey sense - that's the way (uh huh, uh huh) I like it!  For this poem, at least.
 — Isabelle5

A good poem is judge how one's prose move a person. There are rules on how to write a poem. well I dont do the rules.  Life is ever changing so the proses of the poem changes as well. so open minds makes poems great.
I enjoyed the poem, i can image, see, feel the memories that you shared with us.
 — jpnoir

Unknown, your ignorance is showing.  You obviously don't know how to read.  Go peddle your attempts at intimidation somewhere else.  If your mother committed suicide over poems, then her problem was a lot deeper than growing herbs.
 — Isabelle5

very well said Isabelle..

i suspect it's Mike on his alter-ego paranoid house-frau psycho trip again.. trying to stir us up and 'shred' us

oddly enough ;)
 — Mongrol

Why am I not surprised it was your Isa?  Rarely log on and after last found myself wondering at not seeing inlisting...

This is beautifully paced, controlled writing and whatever quibbles have in your style not conforming to their own preference in every word there is a deliberation of intent that marks this with the distinction of an achieved writer...ie you create exactly the right feeling to underline your meaning.
After reading comments can I suggest that "their" tulip bulbs L5 be replaced with
"their' soapy water L4 as being closer to the relationship of things.  

Very splendid work.
 — unknown

Unknown, thank you.  Your recommendation is exactly right, their water, added gently before planted.  Your words are kind.
 — Isabelle5

Wonderful and unique. Great writing
 — themolly

great one isabella!! nice to see ur still around, haha
 — unknown

amazing, I love the content and envy you growing up with witches, It's took me all my life to find that I am a witch. I love the last stanza but I would have liked to hear more about the craft/magick not just herbs, planting, but hey maybe that can be your next subject. I just feel with the title it sort of tempts the reader to more than what they get.
 — unknown

"that's the way (uh huh, uh huh) I like it!" Great line! lol
About the poem: it's  a magnificent read. Loved the subject, loved the language. Though I must say, I agree with those saying it's a bit prosey. (Now I don't claim to be half-the-expert as some of the people on this site, just love reading poems.) Perhaps you may try giving it a little clean up, just for fun; who knows, you might like the results. :)
 — elDICE

What an opening line! Lovely there, Isa.  I think the line breaks around L6/7 are a bit rough, though.  Also, L9, fabulous! L10:  Can you be taught gently? I suppose, but is this really the "right" word here?  L15 creates a vulnerability in this piece that is unexpected, and once established, necessary - very fine work there.  Hmm! Overall, gorgeous. Made me cry, as your work so often magnificently does.  Love, WaM.
 — WordsAndMe

Hi, Words.  Yes, gently is right there.  I have seen people use power and fear to raise their children.  
 — Isabelle5

Isabelle:  Had to come back and favorite this--I think it's one of your best.
 — PaulS

It's like you've written my bio. :)
 — wordwabbit