Featured Poem • January 2017

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The Familiar

 

Lynn Hardaker

 
 

i never did like the witch   not that there was any need for my affection in her beetle-black heart   she lured me in one winter’s morning with a saucer of sweet promises   my guard was down   once i crossed the threshold she grabbed me by the tail locked an invisible collar around my neck strung its key on a chain of moonlight that hung around her own   i was hers end of story   until the moment came when she knew, in that way that witches have, that her time was at an end (and they say that we cats are uncanny)   she lay herself out on the table in her best dream-black robes and brushed her hair into a thunder cloud around her head   then she unfastened the chain from her neck and without giving me the satisfaction of even a final glance she swallowed the key   she died grinning.   i watched it all from my perch, here on the shelf between sprigs of brittle herbs and twilight-tinted jars. now, i could wait with the patience of my breed until her flesh dries to tissue paper to slit with a claw, and crawl between the bars of her ribs, rub my whiskers against the empty cauldron of her pelvis gnaw on a patella before picking up the key with teeth as sharp as a curse   i could but what she didn’t know, is that bondage works two ways   the collar around my neck is attached to one around hers by a tether as thin as a promise   so i will spend my days and nights lying on the hearth rug living off spiders and getting used to the cold until she is dust in the corners of this cottage   and when my time is finally at its end (and being a cat, i will know) then i might decide to bite the tiny thread of bondage with teeth as sharp as forgiveness and set her loose at last.

 

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hardaker-photoLynn Hardaker is a Canadian writer and artist currently living in Regensburg, Germany.

Her writing has appeared in such journals as Not One of Us, Goblin Fruit, The Ghastling, and Scheherezade’s Bequest.

About “The Familiar,” she wrote, “I’d always assumed that the relationship between a witch and her familiar was a mutually agreed-upon one. This poem came about when I started to wonder whether that might not always be the case.”

 

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