The first spring lamb was born blind, and before the days grew
full long, three women died in their birthing beds-one
we buried with her belly still large, the babe stuck tight
inside her. Midwife said there must be a witch in our midst,
twisting shut the wombs with some black, black magic.
She made a bottle to ward her off, pissed into the glass,
and added clippings of all our nails and hair. For each of the children
to die since Yule, she dropped in a metal pin, seven
in total. Then through a heart-shaped scrap of leather,
she pushed an iron nail, dropped it into the bottle,
and sealed it shut. They buried the bottle in the center
of the village, and that night as I lay in my narrow bed, I felt
a dampness on my sleeping dress—a tiny hole, a pinprick,
and from it, a trickle of blood spilled out.
LIZ KAY’s poems have appeared in such journals as Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Nimrod, Willow Springs, The New York Quarterly, Iron Horse Literary Review, Redactions, and Sugar House Review. She is the author of The Witch Tells the Story and Makes it True (Quarter Press), the chapbook, Something to Help Me Sleep (dancing girl press), and the novel, Monsters: A Love Story (Putnam). Liz lives in Omaha, NE, with her husband and three sons.