by Danielle Dulsky
I’m so giddy, lover. I thought you were going to sleep forever in your post-passion stupor!
Come sit near this feeble fire and let’s see if you can take your medicine. In my darker and more vengeful moments, when I yearn for nothing more than to dismantle all notions of the palatable Priestess, to peel back her skin and show my Witch’s grit to the world, I stare long into these thin-tongued flames and make the most wicked plans.
It’s this bitter 13th Moon that does it to me, I think. Shall I show you what I’ve been cooking up this morning while I waited for your virility to unfurl?
It started as the innocent fantasies of a sorceress left to her own devices, but it’s turned into the most gruesome gift list, my answer to all the shiny and soulless technologies and the rampant and romanceless consumerism. Are you ready?
Yule want to leave me when I’m finished, I’m sure. You’ve been between my thighs, but you’ve not been inside my head.
If I’m to let you into my heart, beyond the boney gates of my ribs and into the thick, cobwebbed-coated muck of who I really am beneath all this tattooed skin and aging curves, then I need to know you like the worm-riddled and loamy taste of my words as much as the salty wet dripping from my lips.
Wipe that smug grin from your face, beast.
You have no idea what you’re in for, and I’ll wager that for all your dark arts schooling, all the nights you’ve spent waxing poetic on metaphysics and the history of our Gnosis, and all your lonely mornings spent conjuring a full-breasted woman who would put you on your knees; none of that has prepared you for this.
Best return whatever bejeweled baubles or antique apothecary flasks you’ve already bought.
I know you think you know me so well, but, you poor thing, you’ve only begun to touch the macabre majesty that is me.
The first gift I want is hand-wrapped in one year’s worth of snakeskins shed by a mother python and stitched together by those lithe fingers I know so well.
Pluck hairs from your own head to use for thread then melt down that precious heathen symbol you wear to forge the needle. I’ll unwrap it with care, I promise.
Inside will be a wooden box you’ve whittled out of a single piece of driftwood spit straight from the sea under a dark moon, and inside the box is a poem you’ve written in your own blood with a handmade hawk-feather quill.
The poem is short and sweet, though you spent hours upon hours getting each syllable just right, paining over each calligraphic stroke, and secretly weeping at the truth of your words when you spoke of your sheer, hard-muscled, eternal devotion to me.
I’ll read it too quickly, and my casual tone will hurt you just a little, but I’ll show my gratitude later when we’re in bed and I recite back every line in time with the rhythm of that skillful thrust you’ve all but perfected.
Do you still want me? There’s more.
I’ll set the box aside, and yule spend a moment digging a patchwork bag out from beneath the tree.
The bag is made from tiny squares carefully cut from all of your favorite shirts, and, this time, you’ve spun the thread from white wolf fur. Sounds easy enough, right?
Wolves have two layers of fur, you know, and I don’t want you to use the outer guard layer; it’s too rough for my taste. I want the thread woven from the softer, inner layer, and you won’t find it shed and laying about the ground for the taking.
Certainly, you can’t pluck it from any sleeping wolf mother lest you meet an untimely death and, alas, I’ll never get my gifts.
Think, my love. You’re a clever one.
Yule howl just the right words to convince a dark-eyed beast to gift it to you willingly, or maybe yule need to cook her up some red and bloody meal.
I don’t know how yule get the fur, but, when you give that second gift to me, I’ll tear through the thread like it’s nothing, and yule gasp.
Yule beg me to stop, but I won’t.
Inside the wrapping you spent so many long nights preparing is a hand-mined crystal you dug out from a misty mountain cave protected by a murder of crows who tested you, like I am now, to make sure you were worthy of entry.
In the end, they let you in, because they had never seen a lover so devoted as you are to me.
You’re still here. I’ll take that as a sign I can continue, but, when you hear of the last gift on my Witch’s wish list, I’m sure yule want your coat.
Let me pour you something hot and strong first, you brave-heart. Yule need it.
After I’ve tucked the crystal in my cleavage so I might learn its secrets, yule run and get my last gift from a hidden place.
I’ll humor you and close my eyes.
I’ll even hold out my hands in a trust purer than I’ve had to give anyone these last long years, and the next thing I’ll feel is the cool foot-pads of a black-eyed, baby kitten.
She’s not just any kitten, mind you, and you didn’t find her.
She found you, this reincarnation of some great queen who was imprisoned for Witchcraft but escaped the stake, only to die alone but content in some primal forest and wait for centuries in the ether until she could be born to a feral mama feline roaming the same woodland, leaving her siblings to suckle while she set out alone to look for you, the Witch’s lover, the one who would bring her to me.
I’ll tell everyone her name is Morgana, but it won’t be.
We’ll spend hours together in my kitchen that morning, and she’ll whisper to me the ancient recipes of sinners’ aphrodisiacs.
I’ll test a brew or two on you, my love, and we’ll ride out this Solstice together next to the fire.
All my Pagan ornaments will fall from the tree and shatter, victims of our two-bodied love spell, and then we’ll sleep near the hearth with my precious familiar curled sleeping atop our shredded blankets.
The crystal you gifted me will have rolled somewhere close to ensure snow-filled and peaceful dreaming, and we’ll both wake by dawn better and more satiated souls.
I can’t believe it, but you haven’t left yet. Have I underestimated you?
If you’re not afraid then you still best go. You’ve got snakeskin to find and crystals to mine, but, before you leave, tell me what you want, my love.
Are you as sick as me beneath all that pine-and-cedar musk you wear? I’m intrigued now, and I wonder if I’ve finally found a kindred spirit who can ignite my sex and my wit at the same time.
Let’s make a go of it, dearest. What do you say? We’ll start this Winter.
Yule fall for me, but I’ll not settle for just any thoughtless gifts. Forget what you’ve given other women. I don’t want what’s tried and true.
Let’s prove we’re worthy of each other, that the pleasure of this ephemeral flesh is not wasted on yet another short-lived love or half-hearted, fickle vow.
Do you hear me? Cup my face and press those hungry hands into the warmth of my sagging jaw.
I want a love that lives on after this warm skin you’ve been licking has rotten and fallen away, after those bones you’re feeling into now have become home to the wormy, undersoil creatures.
If you’re not up for it, I’m not interested.
I want a love so goddamn epic it sends ripples through the cosmic fabric and keeps our ghosts together right here, next to this hearth, long after everyone we know has died, long after even the most committed specters have given up their haunts, long after my beloved cat has passed on and reincarnated as a tigress and the crystal you gave me has been stolen by some ungrateful grandchild and made into a ghastly, functional trifle.
Long after all of that, I’ll be reciting the words of the poem you wrote me into the ears of unsuspecting living ones who come to this house hoping to stay, hoping to have just a fleeting taste of the hearty, hard-boned, and holy love we shared for so many years.
That’s how much yule mean to me, you horned god. How much will I mean to you?
Only time will tell.
You’ve finished your drink, lover. The fire is dying.
I’ve said all I can, and there’s nothing left for you to do except go and get my presents. I’ll wait, but only until moonrise on the longest night. Kiss me well in case your questing is the death of you, but I do hope yule return.
Until Solstice, my loyal lover.
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