The first witch I met was identified for me later by my mother. He was an old guy, dressed in a shabby black-cloth coat. I was almost six years old at that time and had a plague of warts on my hands, which my mother said had come from my playing with toads. She may have said “frogs,” not “toads.” I know there’s a distinction, but I like the sound of toad and think of them as very dry and knotty. The gentleman noticed the warts and told my mother he could remove them. He passed a white cloth over my hands. He said the warts would be gone in a week. They were, though it was, my mother said, a long week, maybe ten days. Some warts disappear in a short time, with no treatment at all, so maybe the old codger (or worse) wanted to hold my hands for a minute. But maybe he was a witch. Or something even better.
NewsThe Universe Playing Strings, a novel, recently released by the University of New Mexico Press. For details visit R. M. Kinder.