Title: Witch Work
Author: Neil Gaiman
In: Under My Hat (Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fantasy, Witches
Publisher: Hot Key Books
5th sentence, 74th page: She sold calm seas to the mariners’ wives; Tied winds with silk cords so the storms could be tied there.
This short poem is about an elderly witch who lives in a room filled with clocks. She would sell storms, sorrows, and calmed the sea. The narrator explains that he bought three sorrows. The first he gave to his enemy’s child, the second was made into a broth by his wife, and the third remains unused. Regardless of this, the witch’s life is in a box which makes her quite sorrowful. We are not told what makes the witch sad, but she always returns to her house full of clocks.
This was an unexpectedly layered poem in the middle of the Under My Hat anthology. And one that I enjoyed immensely. I actually read this three times, each time with a new meaning and nuance. And, like all good poetry, I think that the more chances I get to read this, the more hidden meanings I will find about what a witch’s work entails.
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