BY PEG ALOI
I wanted a grey day, the beggar said, one with huntsmen lurking in the bracken, willowy girls in wet dresses skipping through the bogs, ginger cats slipping down silken copses to dispatch voles and snakes and buckets brimming with mist-ripened plums.
I remember the cries of blackbirds, the poet mused, in the heat of midday, swirling over burning cornstalks, black spirals tracing otherworlds beneath blue clouds gleaming, disappearing into the ravine, into coming twilight, where brown armies of scurrying ants and black covens of twitching cicadas converge, oblivious, waiting in the whispering dark for dew.
I wanted the smoldering brush, the husband said, the winnowing baskets and wagons stacked with pumpkins and leeks, the last sheaf of grain held high by the harvest queen, lips like wineskins plump and red, copper bracelet flashing like green fire, her eyes the summer stars, her belly the moon.
I know the old ones hacked these fields with scythes, the wife insisted, scraping wheat and barley for winter stores, slaughtering cattle at the Blood Moon and salting it in woolen sacks, blessing the horses with cups of cider, rolling russets into the bins and hoarding twists of sugar between candle boxes. We pray for an early snow to soften the fields.
Another day in the countryside is what I wanted, the child said, one that should end as it begins, with tinkling lamps, our skin scented with sour sweat, hot chocolate, by the fire with cheese and bread, songs sung in my head at sunrise, offered as blessings to midnight travelers, sending us off to sleep with melodies, memories, circling like crows at dusk, like hawks of morning.
We go to Safeways now, but it still tastes like magic if we walk 'round the garden three times before supper.
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Peg Aloi: I am a freelance film critic, media studies scholar, and general wordsmith on many topics. My poetry has appeared in Goblin Fruit and Obsidian Magazine. Currently writing for The Arts Fuse, the Orlando Weekly, Cinemazine, Diabolique, The Establishment, and other fine folks, and my blog "The Witching Hour," hosted on Patheos for years, now has its own domain. I am a co-founder of The Witches' Voice, Inc. and its longtime Media Coordinator. I own small baking and gardening businesses, and am studying horticulture. My witchcraft is the hedgewitchy kind, sprinkled with glitter