Witchcraft in Twin Springs, Poem

I am a survivor of childhood physical, sexual and emotional abuse. It took me a very long time to be able to understand with any clarity how these traumatic experiences shaped my sense of self. The poem, Witchcraft in Twin Springs was one of my first attempts to write about it honestly. “Twin Springs” was the name of the neighborhood where I lived during my teen years. We had a lovely home set back in the woods, far enough from neighbors to be sufficiently isolated. This was Virginia, so relics of the Civil War past abounded in the trenches and graves on the property. I was steeped in the history of the place and my mother often talked about “good” slave owners as opposed to “bad” and to the deep personal faith of many of the Confederates. We had a strongly religious family, one that was ever wary of demonic influences. It was the 1980’s in the South and Covens proliferated in the shadows and the news was full of headlines about suspected “ritual Satanic abuse”. I was often warned that my rebelliousness would open a door to the Occult to move through our family and wreak its havoc. But it was my younger brother who was attracted to such magical thinking. My demons were nearer to me than I could ever have articulated back then, and I was dying to get free.

Witchcraft in Twin Springs

I left the sliding glass door open in the basement all night,
And anyone could enter from the woods.

I always leave the car parked in the driveway facing out.

My mother has promised to kill me if, and she meant it.

She will wrap me in a plastic tarp and drop me down the spring pit,
The one where they buried the slaves, and it fell in. My stepfather
Covered it with plywood.

Virginia has so many graves in the suburbs. Some are Masters’ good and bad,
Some are unmarked property.

My younger brother snuck out to meet with a coven
Down in the cul-de-sac. They carried bags of flour on their backs.

They drew circles and pentagrams, thirteen and casting spells with grown-ups.

It was the ‘80s. Everyone was doing it.

Down in the kitchen, night-light lit, I opened the drawer of knives.

The cats mewing at the basement door, let us out, out.

–From The Bride Minaret, University of Akron Press, 2008

Heathen (Heather Derr-Smith)

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