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Witch Wife

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"Petrosino is a canny, wide-ranging and formally nimble writer with a magician's command of atmosphere."
The New York Times, "The Best Poetry of 2017"

Witch Wife is back in a brand new paperback edition, featuring a reader’s guide and writing prompts from the poet herself.


The poems of Witch Wife are spells, obsessive incantations to exorcise or celebrate memory, to mourn the beloved dead, to conjure children or keep them at bay, to faithfully inhabit one’s given body. In sestinas, villanelles, hallucinogenic prose poems and free verse, Kiki Petrosino summons history’s ghosts—the ancestors that reside in her blood and craft—and sings them to life.

ISBN-13: 9781956046106

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Sarabande Books

Publication Date: 08-30-2022

Pages: 72

Product Dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.40(d)

Kiki Petrosino is the author of White Blood: a Lyric of Virginia (2020) and three other poetry books. She directs the Creative Writing Program at the Universityof Virginia, where she is a Professor of Poetry. Petrosino is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Fellowship in Creative Writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, an Al Smith Fellowship Award from the Kentucky Arts Council, and the UNT Rilke Prize.

Read an Excerpt

Little Gals

They come at night

on membranous

wings. I’m a soft deer

browsing the woods

with strands of willow

in my pelt.

When they lean in

to call me out

I shiver & shine

in my thicket

of one.

Do they know

about the botch

in my belly? I think

it’s a gel

where the white light

rots.

One says You know

it’s past time you bred

& opens her mouth

full of egg teeth.

You must have

some kind of hatch for it

says another

Or hole says the third

clicking.

All three hang

in the night air

identical silk faces

identical jaw wires

wanting to scoop me

into their high

humming.

I gallop deep

in shade

past grease-marked trees

to the lake

where March mud dashes

up my burning

legs.

But soon

I feel them again

at my belly

spinning

their round nymphal

selves, pressing

their hundred

eyes.

There is

a red delight

in the heat & snap

of their pincers.

They’ve made themselves

so much finer this time

new mouthparts

new bodies burrowing

all through my undercoat

where I let them dig down

into the dim

places.

Table of Contents

PRAISE FOR WITCH WIFE


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

ONE

SELF-PORTRAIT
YOUNG
MEMOIR
THIS IS HOW WE FEED THE ANIMALS
MARIA
ELEGY
WHOLE 30
THIGH GAP
BIKINI BRIDGE
FIRST GIRDLE
VOICE LESSON
LITTLE GALS
SERMON

TWO

STORY PROBLEM
PASTORAL
NOCTURNE
TWENTY-ONE
STORY
STUDY ABROAD
EUROPE
WHY DON’T YOU WEAR A BLACK CREPE GLOVE EMBROIDERED IN GOLD, LIKE THE HAND THAT BORE A FALCON?
BREAK-UP-A-THALAMION
LET ME TELL YOU PEOPLE SOMETHING
POLITICAL POEM
AFTERLIFE
ESTIVAL
DOUBLOON OATH

THREE

I MARRIED A HORSEMAN
GHOSTS
WITCH WIFE
LAMENT
VIGIL
THE CHILD WAS IN THE WOODS
PROSPERA
NURSERY
GRÄPPLE
OUGHT
N/OUGHT
JANTAR MANTAR
GOVIND DEV JI
SCARLET
PURGATORIO


READERS' GUIDE
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
WRITING PROMPTS