Some women are born to work with knives.
Just as some must sing or stir their words, you

will stand behind them in the dark, their guilty
secret. They need the smallest eye you can cut

from a creature, they need the bloody shanks
to fill their blackened pots with magic. ...

About the poem

This poem was published in the Coffin Bell special issue on Magic in March 2019.

This poem came from my research into witches and it struck me how much violence was implied behind so many spells. Although the spells themselves are considered by many to be written in code for herbs, the sense of violence is still there and it made me think about hidden violence behind any sense of power.

From there I imagined a band of specialist witches who worked with knives, and somehow separate from the more glamorous aspects of witchcraft. It’s an exploration of who we blame for violence, what purpose it serves and how we accept a lot if we don’t have to see it.

The poem is also about isolation and being ostracised for being different, despite having value, and how people - and women in particular - are meant to stay in their place and fulfil a role despite potential to do more.