Poem: In the Witch Shop
Instead of a Saturday essay this week, a Sunday poem.
In the Witch Shop I was a Buddhist then, and never asked for anything. I chanted each day, Desires are inexhaustible, I vow to put an end to them and I wanted to be pregnant with a fierceness beyond reason. Enough to stop T and let my body go alien, enough to let countless ultrasound wands into a hole I had no word for, enough to let doctors pump radioactive fluid into my womb while I writhed in pain. My Zen teacher had told me to meditate on the phrase The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. My longing made me feel unclean. Shame prickled the back of my neck when I entered a witch shop and said, “I want a fertility candle, but I’m trans, so maybe not a goddess one?” The young man behind the counter wore a shirt that said, Don’t be a basic witch. He smiled and offered a choice: a male god, like fire melting the snow, or the great mother of the sea, a blue candle that smelled like a long-forgotten lullaby. He said, “Take the one that calls you.” I was afraid. Maybe candle magic was for fools, like those folk tale peasants who squander their three wishes and end up worse than they started. As a child, I only asked Santa for world peace. But the ocean mother’s scent was like the imprint of a hug through lifetimes. I reached for her. He said, “The great mother holds everyone, no matter who you are, she whispers, what do you want, baby, what do you want? I didn’t know you could say what you wanted or have anyone to hold you and listen. Bowing silently before the teacher was all I knew, long hours in the zendo, the sting of the compassion stick.
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