Witch Doctor


L I P S T I C K   &   O T H E R   S E R V I T U D E S



C A N D I C E   K E L S E Y




My mother took us
to find a cure for my brothers’
foot worm and my fear
of kindergarten:

the witch doctor asked me to stand.

I stood and stared
out his window imagining my fingers
in the Kowloon Bay and
my little body thundering off
from Kai Tak airport –

She smiled at the old man
his eyes rolled back like mahjong dice
his invocation to the spirits perhaps.

My two brothers sat
a refuge of odd symmetry.

A catch of duck feathers
in my mother’s hands as we left
she was at peace
and I was never the same.

She obeyed the witch doctor
placing one feather under each of our pillows.

My brothers dreamt of catching
snakes chasing bats and
never went barefoot again.

I ordered my dolls to stand
against the wall while I traced their shapes
with that feather.

I rolled my eyes and
wondered who could hear
the engine of my desire thundering.

Little girls like me
we squeeze the soft right out of ourselves.






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