Advice for Girls Burnt as Witches in Past Lives

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Advice for girls who wake up smelling smoke: the fire isn’t lit yet,

And if they come to take you to the pyre scratch every bit of them you can get.

Even executioners have eyes.

I’d advise you to drink honey in the mornings to keep your voice sweet

No one came when you screamed so learn to sing

Make them follow the sound of a nightingale only to rescue a raven.


When you wash the blood from underneath your fingernails, use sea water

But when you wash the mud off your tired feet after battle use the river

May salt and running water keep you safe.

Chafe against your chains if you have to, it’s only skin, it grows back.

It can take seven years to forget why an animal chews off its leg in a trap

But maybe you’re just not the forgetting type


So when you wake up smelling the smoke turn on the lights

Count your scars, run your fingers over where the skin got hard and tight

That’s what healing is sometimes.

When you wake up smelling smoke run out of your house into the park

Feel the soft grass between your toes with roots growing deep into the dark

That’s what healing is sometimes too.


Maybe forgetting isn’t for you, maybe nightmares will always proceed your morning rituals,

Maybe your hair will always smell like smoke, you clothes made of memories too residual

So rip them to use as cleaning rags,

Light incense and candles until the smoke is a comfort to you

Scars can start looking like stretch marks from where you grew

All the faster for the forest fire.

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