‘Spare the Fire, Spoil the Brute’, Gerri Leen

Illustration © 2020 Rachel Linn

 [ What she is, © 2020 Rachel Linn ] If you don’t want to know what she is
Don’t ask, don’t go through her things

Don’t follow her to the woods and watch her
Throw off her clothes and dance skyclad

Don’t feel faint from the fumes of incense
And herbs and the slightly charred scent of magic

Or is it magick? The books you’ve checked have it
Both ways. With a “K” or without, it doesn’t matter

She’s powerful, she’s beautiful, and she’s a
Witch, God help you she’s a witch and you’re not

You can’t raise the power you can feel, if only by the way
Your hair rises on your arms and the back of your neck

She’s evil. That’s what you’ll say as you make sense of this
Even though she’s never hurt you, or anyone else either

You’ll stop her: you’re a good boy and don’t hold with such
Things as this, as bonfires in the wood, and dancing golden women

Needing no men to accomplish, to set in motion, to be free
Your woman isn’t free, witch or no, and you know how to

Bring her to heel. A quick gulp from your flask fills you with
Righteous anger and you stride out of the shadows and toward

The women—no, call them sluts, call them whores
Who else would dance naked under a full moon?

She still has bruises on her face from the last time you
Didn’t like her actions and she reaches up, caressing them

“Come get me,” she says and beckons you into the circle with a flick
Of the fingers you always thought so elegant until you realized she was

Nothing more than the rest of them, females to be taught a lesson
Just like your daddy taught your mama. You grin as you cross over

The imaginary circle these bitches think can keep them safe, you step
One, two, three and with each foot down there’s searing heat from your toes

To your scalp. You want to scream, to make it stop, but she’s staring at you
With a look so full of hatred and power and vengeance that you realize

This ritual, this dance, this whole goddamned thing was for you
To catch you, to neuter you—to kill you

“I love you,” you say and for you it’s true: you do love her
“That’s the saddest part of all of this,” she says, then she claps

Her hands near your head and you feel the fire burn the rest of you
The bonfire has gone out because it’s inside you and you scream

As you burn, her bruises disappear. As you writhe, she watches
And does nothing, just as you did when she was the one on the floor

© 2020 Gerri Leen

Comment on the stories in this issue on the TFF Press blog.

Home Current Back Issues Guidelines Contact About Fiction Artists Non-fiction Support Links Reviews News