Poetry by Lucy Whitehead: The Coven

Poetry by Lucy Whitehead: The Coven

The Coven

They held my initiation at thirteen
with a fruit cake full of rum, carved
bone earrings in my newly pierced ears.

So many years with my sisters
ahead of me, drinking wine, cider,
beer, setting the world to rights,

long chats about makeup brands,
love, relationships, men and sex, finding
our futures in tarot cards and runes.

Breakups soothed with greasy food,
chocolate, biscuits, endless scoops
of cookie-dough ice cream. Evenings

watching chickflicks, gossiping
through face packs and nail-painting
sessions. That time we drank too much

whiskey, bleached and dyed our hair green,
screeched in back alleyways, gazed at the moon.
Summers spent in flowery dresses

barefoot in the bluebell woods, camping
without tents, cackling over campfires,
high in blossoming hawthorns

singing to our hearts’ content.
Skinny dipping on hidden beaches, night
and day, sunbathing nude. Winters

brimming with bubbling soups,
jam-making, pickling, dancing wildly
round the living room or around

our handbags on top of beer-
soaked tables in foreign bars
in the middle of the afternoon.

The women in the coven
of my life flow like a stream. They
welcome me like an ancient forest,

roots driven deep
into the earth, heads tipped
to the sky, their hands in the stars.