Tea With Witches

by Kate Chadbourne

Poison or honey, without flinching
drink what they hold out to you

They hum and gasp at intervals
hand round a platter of dew drops

It's unwise to eat more than your share
or less than would sustain you

If you want to laugh, laugh
Words are slippery as frog spawn, here

If tears seize you, shed them into the open
mouth of a vernal pool

Your lace skirt is your own business
No one expects you to bring flowers

But show them the star in the toe of your stocking
or the wind curled at the tail of your eye

And you will earn the right of return,
and all the moons you can swallow

In the woods behind her house, Kate Chadbourne drinks tea with witches and finds these encounters harrowing but necessary. She is a singer, storyteller, harper, and poet, performing all over New England and offering training and encouragement to other bards through her Bardic Academy. Once smitten with a poem, she cannot restrain herself from setting it to music.

The word "cherry" conjures up Pablo Neruda's "Every Day You Play" and its final line that weakens knees and sets hips a-quiver: "I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees." Waiting right behind that is John Spillane's song, "The Dance of the Cherry Trees," which gives a generous voice to the cherry trees who encourage us to bloom, singing, "You know we've traveled all around the sun. You know it's taken us one whole year. Well done everyone, well done!"

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