Noon Witches

by Laurie Byro
Desert Moon Review
Third Place, October 2014
Judged by Philip Belcher


For Samantha and Rachel Maynard

To know my deed, ‘twere best not know myself. Macbeth

I am a crone, my girls know it’s true. We are the witches from Macbeth
I am the ancient who mutters gutturals, they are young enough to hum
labials. I try to explain to them, who are unaware of death, that

in the end, my father was my son. I fill the car with tears for
my absent father. On the sidewalk, heat rises from white cement
and I quote “round about the cauldron go.” My borrowed children

look at me strangely while poking through the bargains on
the table in front of each store. Nothing is perfect, there are flowered
bowls with chips, dog-eared journals. There are lovely paper angels

whose wings have lost some glitter. I point out the velvet masks
from New Orleans, one has a rhinestone owl. I try to talk them
into something that will last, not a latte or salt water taffy.

The summer after my father dies, I have the day on a leash.
The heat and light swirl over me, catching me pink. I am a moth caught
inside a nautilus shell. Ghosts have trapped me in a shankha in their garden.


This poem takes its cue from Macbeth to explore familial relationships and grief. Particularly absorbing are the poet’s use of the craft elements of music, detail, and imagery. Short “u” sounds tie the poem together: “mutters,” “gutturals,” “cauldron,” “children,” and more. The mystery of the “borrowed children” is never completely resolved, and that’s a strength of the poem. Not everything has to be explained. Specificity is helpful, too; the “rhinestone owl” helps the reader believe in the speaker’s voice. It is clear that the poet is working to consider things “that will last” as she or he contemplates the father’s death. Particularly exciting were the images of having “the day on a leash” and the “moth caught inside a nautilus shell.” I am envious of those. --Philip Belcher

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