Free the Witch

“Holding hands, skipping like a stone.” Thom Yorke trills in Burn the Witch.

I like to teach fronted adverbials when Venus is at its closest to the Earth; in its new phase, directly between the Earth and the Sun.

At this time, I can be found grinding ragwort with a pestle and mortar. The pestle and mortar were both hewn from the same block of marble, pilfered from the tomb of the first teacher: Timon of Cramlington.

Timon would work the ground ragwort into a fine paste, mixing it with Gloy. He would then massage it into his flaxen hair, using it as an early form of Dax or Bedhead. It did nothing for his teaching and nor does it anything for mine.

I teach fronted adverbials from the centre of an ice cold purple flame, my voice augmented by excited sound particles that I arouse with dark hymn. I directly instruct my young acolytes as they weave sentences into fleshy parchment and toss each piece into the rough cauldron that we keep hidden from inspectors under an Ikea blanket that features a range of owls in varying states of geometric aloofness.

My acolytes conjure purposes for their spells: to turn the eye of an object of desire, to change the hair colouring of an irritating colleague, to breed forgetfulness, or to construct a citadel in a single teardrop.

We weave, conjure and burn each phrase until our purple flame rises to tickle the asbestos tiles in our ceiling. The caretaker passes our door, his forehead prickling with new, cold sweat. His bones speak to him as he walks by: he shakes his head hurriedly as if to free himself from the truth they speak.

Our droning hymnal rises as we circle our pyre of spelling, punctuation and grammar. Each child reels and revels in anticipation of the magic that will pour like lava, alchemical, into their palms, lighting up their lifelines, seeping into their pores and searing runic symbols into their every helix of DNA.

The hedgerow rises around us as we sing. Veins of ivy course and trail through the hedgerow. No inspector nor administrator may pierce this newgrown thicket. The skulls of those that seek to do so can be found in the darkest webbings of foliage. Their clipboards spasmodically spat out at intervals of measured release: their rhythms only known to those pagan angels who observe the thicket from a great and distant height.

In this garden we play and in this garden we work. Our magic is done and in the doing becomes. Those we choose to see its aftermath, well, it is those we allow to live to tell the tale. No more.

Free the witch. Free the witches. Rebuild, then seal the Secret Garden. Engulfed in purple flame, we ride tongues of adverbial crescendo. Fronted, we close about the cauldron and end our prayers with rising intonation. Our every prayer: a question that will be answered with the next.


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