The Fourth Witch

And now for something completely different…

So here’s the story.

I was writing a Macbeth exam for my one of my classes and I wanted to find a poem, or a song, or something that the students could relate to the text. I searched all over but couldn’t find what I wanted.

So instead, I wrote what I was looking for.

I initially posed it here and started getting comments and emails about it. People were concerned. Empathetic. Some good friends laughed at the “silent” line.

But, see, this isn’t autobiographical. It isn’t coming from some dark place. It really is just a question for my Macbeth test.


The Fourth Witch

I am the fourth witch, the one they don’t mention

Hidden in the shadows of the heath

While my sisters double and bubble

And secretly toil.


I am the judger, the one who observes

Watching them munch and munch

With the lives of sailors and kings

And worthy thanes.


I am the silent one, cloaked in shade

As chaos and storms brew

Nighttime cauldrons and haunted minds

And poisoned breasts.


I am the eyes of the hearer, the ears of the watcher

The witness to all that is flawed, and steeped in blood

So thick and deep and spreading

And staining.


They dance round and round, without me

The fourth sister, the banished and alone,

Cowering in the corner sister.

Clean-chinned and clothed in robes

That don’t quite fit.


He comes near, bold and wild,

A foul man,  a fair idiot, playing upon our stage,

Fretting and strutting into their hands

And their winding charms.


“Out, Out!” I want to say. “Turn, hound!

And follow lighted tapers to a new morning

Away from these fools and their chants

And hollow knocks.”


But I am the fourth witch, a role never borne

Weaker than my sisters, unsexed on the heath.

Pricking my thumb and letting him go

The way to dusty death


In silence.

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