The Westray Storm Witch

by Julie-ann Rowell

They call her spae-wife, those others,
with her lick-spit potions, her do-good healing.
Late at night, I’ve eyed her going about busy

when the moon splits heaven, cold as glass,
and a hare stops meadow-wise with a frozen shadow,
eyes like bronze coins against the loaming.

I tell them I’ve seen her seek out storms,
her predictions win their wives –
keep the men safe on shore for another day or more;

no one’s earning a living, except her, the Finn.
So I looked for her on the Mermaid’s Chair,
girl with a hook for a smile, and took a club

to that fair brow and minced her out, to see if she’d
raise darkness on me, but she fell where light
winks in the ocean and aaks stand to attention.

I saw her blood run dark as I battered her again
and no one stopped me. No one said,
Thou Shalt Not! Listen, for the World is Upon Thee.


aak: Orkney dialect for guillemot.