by Jane Lang
The preparation is a poem written in black
blood penned by dark hags while they swirl
in blazing darkness, capes spread to catch
wary, exuberant children.
The ritual—rub the cauldron with pigs' lard
before it reaches the flame then while it's
hefted into place intone an incantation, add
a somber dirge to enhance its evil powers.
The ingredients are assembled by gnarled, icy
fingers that deftly search minds then slowly
softly, secretly pull glittering webs of lacy
silk across small faces filled with caution
and giddy anticipation.
All morning the crows have cawed, dread
has added credence to the bubbling pot of
expectations. Children's fright has become
reality and the eerie wails, hisses, hexes
songs of night begin…