A Witch’s Junk Drawer

Rebecca Buchanan

The witch departs
to fetch the tea
and the tea things.

The drawer waits.

Don’t open it.

(After you have opened it,
don’t touch anything.)

There will be spools and snippets and tangles of thread,
red and pale yellow and gaudy blue.
These are fates not yet woven,
lives yet to be lived,
terrible memories clipped away
in exchange for a secret or a kiss.
(Be wary which thread
you tie around your finger or wrist:
that fate or life or memory is yours now.)

Shiny rocks, too,
some worn smooth as glass,
others sharp enough to cut the air.
The witch has gathered these
from the bottom of the ocean
and the bellies of volcanoes
and the birthing caves of wild rivers.
(Would you sing like a whale?
Cleave the tongues of liars?
Know the thoughts of a salmon?
Then pick a stone.)

Crow and raven and jackdaw,
owl and eagle.
The witch will sew these into a cloak
and fly with the north wind,
eastward around the sun
and westward around the moon.
(Take care, for corvids are known for their greed,
the wisdom of owls is a burden,
and the bravery of eagles is often fatal.)

So many bones.
Do you recognize any of them?
Feline and canine,
rat and mouse and raccoon.
(Would you be graceful, loyal,
cunning, quiet, or clever?)

And deer antlers,
and bear claws,
and wolf fangs,
some still stained red.
(Careful, for the antlers
are a heavy crown to wear,
the claws’ strength is such
as to make you untouchable,
and the fangs will leave you hungry,
so very hungry.)

And there are eyes,
of course,
polished and gleaming.
The eyes of foxes and rabbits,
rivals and lovers,
and those who looked
where they should not.
(Choose, quickly.
Would you always see
the right path? The treasures
within the earth? The truth
hidden deep in a heart? Choose.)

Close the drawer,
if you can.

Sit. When the witch returns,
tea and tea things in hand,
say thank you.
Drink the tea.
When the witch smiles,
showing teeth, smile in return.
Do not show your teeth.


if you can.

And when you return,
clutching the thread or rock or feather
or other stolen treasure,
and beg the witch to take it back,
do not lie.
A memory or a fate or an eye,
polished and gleaming,
for looking where you should not —

Payment must be made.​

“A Witch’s Junk Drawer”  ©  Rebecca Buchanan,  first published here in Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores on Hallowe’en of 2022
Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer [eternalhauntedsummer.com [1]], and is a regular contributor to ev0ke: witchcraft*paganism*lifestyle [ev0kepublication.com [2]]. She has been published in a variety of venues, and has released three short story collections and one poetry collection, with two more collections expected by the end of the year.


Illustrations  “Nocturnal Whisperings” and “Mystical Forest” by Wyldraven, who can be found roosting here  amongst much beautiful artwork.

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