Witches Brooms and Winter Roses

This year is nearly over.
We walk arm in arm,
hear the sound of sirens
incessant background dirge.

On our street, three cases.
One next door, one across the way.
Another, three doors down.
No dead so far.

Stubborn Pollyanna, I look for signs
of hope, coded messages that we will
evade the lightning bolts, keep walking
till we reach the other side.

On a bush near our house,
a bright red winter rose
has survived the frost.
On a tree, I see what seems a nest.

A friend tells me it’s a growth
called witches’ broom. I find this
reassuring. Witches put brooms
by the door to keep those inside safe.

We’ll be breathing come next spring.



Susan Castillo Street is Harriet Beecher Stowe Professor Emerita, King’s College London.  She has published four collections of poems, The Candlewoman’s Trade (Diehard Press, 2003), Abiding Chemistry,  (Aldrich Press, 2015), The Gun-Runner’s Daughter, (Aldrich, 2018) and Cloak (Kelsay Books, 2020), as well as a pamphlet, Constellations (Three Drops Press, 2016).  Her poetry has appeared in leading journals and anthologies, including Southern Quarterly, Prole, The High Window, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Missing Slate, The New European, and Riggwelter Her poem ‘Bird of God’ won first place in the 2018 Pre-Raphaelite Society Poetry Competition.