Sheila-Na-Gig online


Morgaine Van Wingerden


Morgaine van Wingerden is a poet, spoken word artist and midwife based in Melbourne. She has performed her poetry at a number of events across Australia and the United States and was a member of the only Australian team to compete in the 2018 National Poetry Slam in Chicago.

Sandstone Cliffs

My mother once practiced witchcraft with her sister
To expel the unholy influence of the man she met online
Who could see into her past and speak to their father as he sat dying
Feeding baby birds that swarmed around him
They put a voodoo doll in the freezer with the leftover dinners and veggie sausages
Cut his image into confetti and flung it to the wind
Over the cliff my mother howled from when she needed
His eyes flew back and stared up at them from a puddle in the sandstone rock
She still shivers thinking about him
And the sway he could have held over her
If she hadn’t used the magic scalpel to cut the cancer out

My mother always was a gentle soul. Thought death by magic was still murder
Took the voodoo doll out not long after it had started frosting.
My aunt rolled her eyes, spat out the Nicorette gum and lit a cigarette.
Never the demonstrative type
She held me in tarot readings after my first real heartbreak
Reshuffling the deck when the answers were wrong
Her life a muted howl into a darkness that would never leave her

I used to practice witchcraft when I was much younger.
Wore pentagrams around my neck
Inscribed prayers on my chest of drawers
Converted a coffee table into an alter
Hoped to magic this discomfort and loneliness away

I ran away from the sandstone cliffs
Or more from the people who live on them
Who never let you forget the mistakes you make
Or let you evolve into something more than an awkward child
I rebuilt myself in cities that didn’t know me
My posture is poor but it’s getting better
Not buckled under the shame of whispering hypocrisy
And the viper tongues of petty people embracing shallow hippy ideology
But I miss the trees and sandstone cliffs
And having somewhere to howl from
When I need to

%d bloggers like this: