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  • Amara Tiebout

The Witches Who Raised Me


A pregnant moon hung indigo

the first time I suspected mom

was in a coven. Mama sauntered like

a satellite, with a gravitational pull

only the gods knew. Sacred like soil,

divine to this den of wyvern women.

They rose as one to fill her craters,

rub silver-tongued moon dust into her

ravines. A choreographed calligraphy

of limbs. I didn’t see broomsticks

in front of the house that night, but when

my sister got her first period, my mom

and her friends celebrated her with a party,

a crown of woven dahlias, and intention,

loud and soft all at once, for everyone to see.

When it was my turn, the tradition slipped

away like a broken incantation.

Found out my mom was just a woman,

who dreams in Magic, drives two hours each day to sell

crystals, and anoints herself with a glass of Merlot.



and another.

The first spell I cast conjured resentment so acrid,

it scorched wildfire for a decade. Chardonnay-soaked

taunts scared me out of the kitchen, so I stole her salts,

dried her thyme, and mixed potions to the blaze of Bette

Midler in Hocus Pocus. Potions to forget. To blur

the stain of alcohol into a queen mother

enchantment. I cherry-picked the best

of my childhood out of a bunk-bed cauldron.

Excavated hexes from my marrow,

from every one of mom’s lessons in wolf—in wild.

Scryed for the afternoon she transformed

a hilltop into a choir, and her coven seduced

the wind with chanting hips and painted drums.

Erased the DUIs, the screams that vultured my flesh,

the supine mornings in bed, a mermaid who lost

her legs to the bottle.

Our last phone call wasn’t a call, it was a voicemail

with 47 sobs and exactly zero words.

I am careful with ritual now.

Boundaries aren’t made of alabaster

and gossamer. They are sonder and gristle.

Mom taught me that. She doesn’t

visit, or sip coffee at my dining table,

doesn't know that I stock clover honey

and half-and-half cream, just like her. She hasn’t

seen the portraits of her in every room.

But they’re not for her. They set me free

to adore each version of The Enchantress.

Each one a reminder to charm myself,

with celadon tulips and cerise verve, to fingerpaint

sunsets on my cheeks and wander the Vatican

alone, to dove a prayer to all the witches

who raised me to believe in sorcery.

In my own thumping limerence

and my own two feet, mama’s feet.

Under the sun of the Sistine Chapel, I vow

to love myself twice as much. The alchemist and the art.


Amara Tiebout (32-year-old freak) is a queer writer and editor hailing from Washington DC. She edits medical research during the day and scribbles poetry and fantasy novels in her spare time. She believes with her whole 160 lbs in social justice reform, sex positivity, healthcare and reproductive rights for all genders and bodies, and a good latte. Contact Amara at, or follow her at @amarart.

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