In my home, a pane of glass
has been lain at a deliberate
diagonal in the gable-end wall.

It looks crooked, but nestled
in that narrow space, this glazed
mystery admits illumination. ...

About the poem

This poem was published in issue 2 of Marble Poetry.

The poem was inspired by an aspect of American vernacular known as 'witch windows'. These are found mostly in Vermont and are windows placed diagonally in the gable end of a wall. According to legend this was to prevent witches from flying in.

This whole idea fascinated me. Quite apart from the strange logic that puts one window at a diagonal while leaving all the others straight - and no one worrying about a witch simply walking through the front door - the idea that houses would be designed to prevent witches flying in was too powerful to resist. It's likely that the naming of witch windows is little more than a tale told to children because they do have a more practical purpose. That didn't stop me wanting to write about them. 

The New England connection made me think of Emily Dickinson and her famous opening line: "Tell all the truth but tell it slant -" and it was in that spirit that the poem was written. It presents a truth about these windows and the stories behind them, but one that is told slant.