One silvery winter afternoon,
the week after school got out for Christmas,
we knelt in the soft, perfect snow
frantically drowning Bernadette
in the cold skin of the lake.
Bernadette the witch.
For science, we told ourselves.
But Archimedes would not shout
were he watching.
Bernadette would shout if she could;
Bernadette’s parents would do more than shout.
Or perhaps they would join us.
She wasn’t floating much.
As I held on to Ignacio
to keep him from toppling over
and joining the experiment,
I thought about Bernadette.
A girl; my age, freckles,
ink black hair, green eyes,
a disposition given to consorting
an inclination toward frolicking
an indenture irredeemably binding her
with unholy Lucifer himself.
As bubbles punctured the surface,
I recalled Bernadette’s questions
in calculus and chemistry.
Questions that had been nesting
in my head too.
I thought about prom and
—with a blush—
about Bernadette’s scandalous red dress.
The same dress, I now remembered,
that Valentina had worn.
Bernadette the girl.
The only difference, really, was
A frown crawled onto my face,
like the beetles Bernadette kept
in her sock drawer.
The frown tugged behind it
a notion, that
maybe, just maybe, this was
than the witchcraft.
The feeling blew up like a balloon
and pulled my heart up
into the sky
where I could see more clearly.
after a frantic tussle,
a bruised thigh,
two black eyes,
and a mouth with fewer teeth in the way,
I had become a rescuer of witches—
a witch spluttering but alive
and recovering quickly enough
to curse the ordinary kind of cursing.
we trudged home through the snow,
clearly in league with the
terrible and dreadful forces of darkness,
but mostly just hungry and tired.
Bernadette made fire in her hands
to keep us warm,
and I found that witches
—some witches, anyway—
make good friends.