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by Ana Prundaru

I’m six. Grandfather is scrubbing my knees clean. It’s seven in the morning. It’s time for school. He scolds me. I stumbled from the hilltop behind our house. Blood trickles like droplets of rubies, turns to poop-colored mash on the soil. He says girls have no business playing on the hilltop behind our house. I say yes, grandfather. I clutch greenery in my left hand. They are healing herbs.

I’m back home. I help grandmother with dinner. The wind chimes catch and release spicy fragrances. Grandmother is upset that I have to re-do an assignment. The assignment is about what we want to be when we grow up. Mine says I want to be a witch. Everyone else’s says vet, singer and astronaut. Grandmother explains witches aren’t real. I say yes, grandmother.

I go upstairs to my room. I untie my braids. I place the healing herbs in a ceramic box. My room has blue paper flowers on the walls and beauty pageant trophies on the nightstand. They aren’t mine. They are my Mom’s. My Mom is very pretty. She used to be not so pretty, so grandmother and grandfather brought her to a witch. The witch cut holes in her face. The witch made her nose smaller and her eyes bigger, her chin heart-shaped and her forehead oval.

When she cut holes in her, part of my Mom vanished. Now, Mom is locked away. She is hurting. When I’m a witch, I will find my Mom’s lost parts. When I’m a witch, I’ll make my Mom’s outside beauty synch with her inside beauty. I write: I want to be just like my Mom. I write: I won’t let anyone cut holes in me.

Ana Prundaru is the author of two poetry chapbooks: 1L4S3T (Etched Press) and Unstable Tales (Dancing Girl Press). Her work is forthcoming from velvet-tail, Kentucky Review, Softblow, Lotus-Eater and Thread Literary Magazine.