Means Of Production

Entry by: zoanne

8th April 2016
Means of Production

Once upon a time there was a witch, and she lived under the withering hill.

The wind snarled around her little stone cottage, and the trees clung like skeletal claws to the splintered rocks above.

She spun, as witches spin, in the darkness. Her spinning wheel was invisible in the shadows, but its whirring rhythm rushed out like breath as she rocked the treadle. And if the spinning wheel sighs until the room seems full of voices, well, perhaps that is not so strange. It is the sound our great-great-grandmothers grew up with, and their mothers and mothers before them. The memories of accidental lullabies linger in the shadows for a long time, after all.

He witch wove in the moonlight, and the beams of her loom were pale and smooth. And if the reeds pull like sinews away from the shuttle, and if the shuttle chatters across the warp like skittering knuckle-bones, and if the heddles rise and fall like dancing limbs, well, perhaps that is not so strange. The yammering voices of bone have nattered on for generations about work and death and unsavoury neighbours, and we've taken the onslaught with a pinch of salt and a bit of dancing for a long time, after all.

The witch walked out in the morning, and chopped wood by the stream. She raised her axe, as woodcutters do, in the silent sunshine; and sudden light glinted off the blade as she swung it above her head. And if the whack of the edge plunging into a log jolts in the stomach like the shock of heartbreak, well, perhaps is not so strange. We know this sound well, sunk deep in our ears and bodies. We have heard and hefted axes for a long time, after all.

The witch knelt by the water, and cupped it in her hand. And if the reflection breaks and shimmers into a thousand half-recognised faces, that is not so strange. We have cradled our image in water, and drunk it down in cool handfuls for a long time, after all.

The witch sang in the wilderness, and her voice was full of owls.

The ice cracked on the hill and rolled in glittering stones past the corpse-white trees. Snow fell from the pale sky, and the world became cold and clean as crystal. Ice crawled on the pond, and the pale sky peeled off in flakes that fluttered and froze on the ground.

The witch stood in the snowstorm like a flame, her hair the colour of a kestrel, her hands questing, investigating, twisting like spring flowers in the snow.

She was a witch of ice, of cold stone roses and of life locked in frozen forms, of forgotten names and petrified footprints.
She was a witch of work, of the warmth of the body that builds and buds, that breathes and weaves and splits and sings.
She was a witch of forever, which she remembered and forgot in the same breath, and every breath was the next breath and every breath was the last.
She was a witch of change, and she shattered the ice into shimmering shards of light, and sent the birds abroad to sing.

Witches are the opposite of gods. Gods need to be worshipped and remembered. They need their names and their stories repeated on a thousand tongues a thousand times, until they grow fat as a fruit and burst, and are eaten, and multiply.

Witches are never remembered. They lift their hands, and we hear a storm. They shake their hair, and a flock of birds floods the air before us. They whisper the idea of words, and we hear broken memories from nowhere, or the idea of memories, and we remember:
names that never were
stories that never happened
strange sounds from the spinning wheel, the loom, the axe
strange visions from the stream
and we grow fat as a fruit and burst

and repeat the broken memories out loud a thousand times
until we almost learn our own names.

And what could be produced without the witch,
working, forgotten,
burning in the ice under the withering hill?