October 18, 2016

Dust Witch

Dust to dust, you call my name.
Summer's gone and turned to ashes
Now our train is pulling in.
Dandelions blowin' in the wind...

Ashes to ashes

Feels like I've been here before
in this empty weed-grown clearing
Another time, another place,
different name and different face...

Ashes to ashes

Coffin made of ice and glass,
eyes sewn shut, hands read the future.
But fortune never smiled on me.
No one ever came to set me free.

Dust to dust
and ashes to ashes.

I run my fingers through the air.
A storm is coming
singing of despair,
the sweetest sound
                                of all.

Dandelion wine is gone.
Lightning! Thunder! That’s our song,
Dust to dust
And ashes to ashes

Summer, winter, spring, and fall—
once I really thought they'd all
           with me...
if I could just live on,

All my dreams flew from my hand,
hour-glass's falling sand
blowing in the wind
like dust and ashes…

…to ashes…

My fingers pluck the strings of life—
Old age, sadness, illness, strife—

From dark wrists black ink is bleeding.
Touch his heart and stop it beating.


I strum out an epitaph.
Death stalks closer,

My heart shudders at the noise.
Warm summer days and laughing boys.


And then when he smiled at me
I heard a lightning melody,
…the sweetest wine
                                 of all…

I could feel my glass heart shatter.
Dandelions fade and scatter.

Dust to dust

Fortune never smiled…

Ashes to ashes

He came back…

Dust to

                             …set me free…



The above is a fanfiction poem for one of my favorite books, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, with heavy inspiration from his other novel, Dandelion Wine. Both books occur in Greentown, IL, and deal with the idea of not wanting to die or grow old, but in decidedly different ways. I would say that Dandelion Wine is a summer book, told through a series of magical realist vignettes, whereas Something Wicked is an autumn book, an eerie tale of fantasy.

This poem concerns the Dust Witch, who is the right-hand man of Mr. Dark, the novel’s antagonist. She’s probably the carnival’s most powerful freak, yet Dark holds sway over her just like the rest, and basically forces her to face off against Charles Halloway at the end of the novel, thus hastening her demise. It’s unclear if she was tempted into the carnival like the rest, or if she is the same sort of entity as Dark (though he does bear a tattoo of her on his wrist). Though described as old and ugly in the novel, the movie version, the screenplay of which was written by Bradbury himself, implies that she is also “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World” who was encased in an ice coffin. Interestingly, there is a Mr. Black in Dandelion Wine who possesses a mechanical Tarot Witch, which he hits when it won’t work properly; unlike the Dust Witch, she is “rescued” from her “captor” by the novel’s young protagonist.

It was all of these intertwining details that inspired the above poem. I picture it more like a melancholy song; I tried to slow down some of the beats using line breaks and spacing, and tried to change the rhythm throughout to sort of show her situation unraveling around her, both in the present and in her mysterious past. I also tried to allude to her memories and her premonitions of the future by using italics.

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