Once, there was an old crone. Heartache and years have turned her into this old crone with dry skin and gunpowder hair.
All around her, people called her a witch: she didn’t understand how it happened.
They threw rocks at her cats and sneers at her face.
But what they didn’t know was how beautiful she was when she was still young. She may have even been an enchanted princess, who knows!
They did not know that this will become their fate, too, one day far, far away.
The future is too far away for anyone to see.
They lived around a pond known for crows and its other inky birds.
Or, it was a real witch who made her this way, an old crone with dry skin and gunpowder hair.
Although her eyes were halcyon, the blackness of the water made them sheen with reflective shadow. Sitting pond-side, she retrospected and sighed at fate and its murky choices.
Or, she has always been this way. She has neither been young nor beautiful. Nor has she ever strived for such paltry goals.
Because happily ever after is only another name for insomnia.
Or, she’s there, at the bottom of the pond, and it was her sadness that turned the water so dark and vengeful, a water that will never forgive, never again.
Riddle me this one: what the fuck is wrong with being a witch?
She has thousands of Internet friends; they wish her happy birthday, like they understand the language of her damage.
Or, because she didn’t sink, the wind kissed her ashes a million times, each one a tiny farewell.
Lily Hoang is the author of five books, including A Bestiary (winner of the inaugural Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s Nonfiction Contest) and Changing (recipient of a PEN Open Books Award). With Joshua Marie Wilkinson, she edited the anthology The Force of What’s Possible: Writers on Accessibility and the Avant-Garde. She is Director of the MFA program at New Mexico State University. She serves as Prose Editor at Puerto del Sol and Editor for Jaded Ibis Press.