The Witch’s Motivation

It is the first take of my disappearing act—
twenty feet off-camera, the star lolls, waiting,
for it to be over, yawning into her waiting—
all while MGM’s army mobilizes around her bright mouth,
and set designers battle with the giant tendrils of a plastic forest
(to better frame her newly dyed crown).
A blast from the director’s megaphone cannot make her flinch—
after all, the shoes, Margaret, have been stolen from you,
is a direction aimed only at a witch’s motivation.
So I advance in my blackened body to the camera, and imagine
I am in my classroom in Rye, NY, and the star is my student.
Her remote voice solves math equations and coos to be excused.
It is clear I do not like her (this, my motivation), just as it is clear
her dressing room is the one dotted with auspicious gold stars—
such stars reserved for only the best students, to chart and
boast their glorious, public progress. And I, an old girl from
the west, should care little for such vain plotting.
Another take, the director charges, and I fear I’ll be burned
to my rancorous bone. But I get into position,
to descend into sulphur—and the star yawns again—
my ugliness, motivation, so stultifying, from so great a divide.

This poem “The Witch’s Motivation” originally appeared in Spectres of Modernism. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 209 (Summer 2011): 47-47.

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