Fantasy magazine

From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

As the Witch Burns

girl scouts sell s’mores to pay their dues
& boy scouts light cigarettes before vanishing
into smoke while adults of indistinguishable
gender & limb count tangle
under emergency blankets—piercings & cellophane
shining shooting star-bright
as the witch between us

jugglers grease their torches with witch fat
& old women smear it onto cracked
nipples & lips
to hydrate aging skin (a secret they inherited
from their grandmothers,
who also burned witches).

industrious men are making candles by catching
melting witch wax
in mason jars with labels stubbornly holding
onto soot-stained glass despite
witch heat.

between the clouds smoke snuffs a narrow
when the moon struggles to shine;
fireworks take its place fueled
by Witch-Burning-Bright.

car speakers are thumping
a bass beat that overwhelms the melody,
knocking marshmallows from sticks
pilfered from the pyre that shrinks
as the witch burns.

scouts & thots & fuckboys sway,
exhale the night & blacken
their lungs—
blacker than charcoal around her
blacker than car speakers blacker
than smoke & clouds blacker
than what lies outside the firelight
blacker than the heart of the witch
someone asked
to burn.

Who? Who pointed across a busy café, clogged street, packed town hall meeting, dance recital, supermarket aisle, cousin’s wake, local sports event, blaring rave flashing neon, regional eclipse viewing in the park—

& said: burn her
& said: bitch
& said: fuck her
& said: witch.

& Who clapped, retweeted, shared, upvoted, endorsed, funded, joined the gang that crossed the stadium/library/cafeteria/church/courtroom/abyss

to grab her
to squeeze her
to breathe in her ear
to let her know

all she has        is helplessness

all she is          is kindling,

starting a fire without intention,
without control,
without consent.

The Fire Burns
only one
To Nothing.

& when the sticks collapse
& smoke ebbs
Dawn shows:
normal people leading
blameless lives,
trailing ashes from the scene
as they walk home


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Marisca Pichette

Marisca Pichette. A white femme with long, dark brown hair, sitting in a summer garden in dappled light.

Marisca Pichette collects monsters and echoes. Her work appears in Strange Horizons, Fireside Magazine, Vastarien, Fusion Fragment, Flash Fiction Online, PseudoPod, and PodCastle, among others. Her speculative poetry collection, Rivers in Your Skin, Sirens in Your Hair, is forthcoming from Android Press in April 2023. Find her on Twitter as @MariscaPichette and Instagram as @marisca_write.