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I must have been a witch at least one time,
a wise and crafty woman and a clever queen
with sunset hair and ocean eyes.
I think I may have danced for princes
using my bare feet, my silk scarves and satin palms
to cast a spell, to grant their wishes.

I think I may have died at sea,
some sort of poignant drowning
in a storm before a calm—
water water everywhere with no indication
that I burned, although I may have smoldered,
smoked, and started fires—some details
are no longer clear, some memories appear
as prayers, surprising meditations,
languages spoken in another land.
I think I might have been a sorceress,
a siren with a velvet voice,
sunning on a rock, seducing sailors,
pirates, kings, explorers . . .
answering their questions, offering them a choice
to dance or dream, to rule or serve.
I must have seemed a goddess in those lights,
an angel in the afternoon, a nymph at night.

I must have taken many down
without a single cut or bruise.
They must have all been willing—
fathers, sons, only brothers—to abandon
wives and quests and kingdoms for the sound
of my sweet singing, plaintive, pure.
I must have been their muse
and there must have been a reason
or a premonition ringing in our ancient ears,
a rationale for all that dying.
This compassion for the wounded
must surely ripple from a stone
skipped long ago across a lake.
I must have loved to give them joy
and then to take their hands in mine
and lead them, man and boy,
to islands somewhere off the map,
to gardens they would grow to love
but never find the strength to leave.
I must have married through the ages—
knights and pawns, priests and mages,
switching names, surviving losses,
waiting centuries to grieve.

Dan Stone

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