Startling Poetry: Apotropaic Magic

Apotropaic Magic by Margaret Wack

I am the king’s daughter slaughtered.
I am a thrall, enthralled, I charm the ocean
into calmness and surcease. I am
a witchwood, hazel woman
smooth as flesh, woven and crafted
and cast from the cliff.
I am a carven queen, a saint,
a pretty thing to bless the ship
with good luck and swift passage.

What do you hope to turn away?
You know that blood must bless the sea,
you people of the shores and crags
and salt-strewn settlements forget slowly:
the ceremony stands: I go before you as a sacrifice
and sink through brine and black water
and plant my feet upon a field
of blue-faced girls who bloom and snarl:
we are your legacy, your lineage, your litany,
the faces that will eat you when you drown.

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