Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Where the Wicked Witch Lives

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Having been raised on Grimm
we mothers set rules: Don't take apples
cakes or candies from strangers. Don't fall
for promises. We call our children in
at dusk.

But the children want to dig up the trick
of being simultaneously brave
and queasy-stomached,
as oaks and rhododendrons quick-
change into robbers and bears.

They want to dangle the string of fear
that comes with angled shadows
and scraping sounds, to feel a burr
scratch their throats when they turn

and run, the string tripping them up
as their hearts race them home.

We mothers listen to the news.
We know how to spot fake kindness.
A witch has red eyes and can't see far
but she's like a beast with keen scent.

On a quiet day we mothers hear the witch
circling, circling—and we wish her boiled dead.


Susan Landgraf has published more than 400 poems, essays, and articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers, including Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, Margie, NimrodBellingham Review, and The Laurel Review. Her full-length poetry collection What We Bury Changes the Ground was published by Tebot Bach in 2017, and she currently is serving a three-year appointment as Poet Laureate of Auburn. She taught at Highline College for 27 years and at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. A writing exercise book is forthcoming from Two Sylvias Press.


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