Days of Wordsworth
by Laura Stamps
Eight-thirty on Saturday morning, first week of January, and Savannah stretches in bed after breakfast, three sleeping cats scattered across the quilt like rowboats afloat, as bright sunlight waterfalls across the room. Time slows on days like this whenever she remembers to live from moment to moment, never looking at the future or the past, but only at the present.
Savannah sighs, wiggling deeper beneath the quilt. “Saturday mornings are some of the best moments of my life,” she purrs, opening her eyes to glimpse cat tails twitching in dreamland, sunshine flooding the bed, the air littered with glistening petals of peace.
Her thoughts drift to the Esbat tonight. Witches call the full moon in January the Cold Moon, but this week sizzles unseasonably warm, daffodils and tulips burst from the ground, while apples and cherries wave pale blossoms at the sun. This flicker of spring reminds Savannah of her favorite poet, William Wordsworth, and his joyous nature poems.
She reaches for her purse on the nightstand, drags it across the bed, and rummages through it, searching for the small volume of Wordsworth’s Selected Poems she always carries with her. When Savannah grasps it, she notices Re squinting through tired eyes, yawning, and stretching his ivory paws, as if protesting the noise she’s making.
She carefully cracks the battered old book and thumbs through its yellowed pages until she finds her favorite verse. Flexing tired muscles beneath cool sheets, Savannah turns, propping the open book against a pillow, trying not to disturb her sleeping cats.
“Here it is,” she murmurs. “Wordsworth’s golden daffodils.”
Re rises and hops on her hip, walking slowly, then collapsing, his head resting upon her neck.
“Perfect,” Savannah says, touching her cheek to his creamy ear, returning to Wordsworth’s enchanted verse.
* * *
Mid-afternoon, and Re zooms through the room, sailing over furniture, skidding into walls, crashing, then scrambling to his feet, running again at top speed, a whirlwind of kitten energy, weighing less than a box of tissue. Too big to shimmy beneath the refrigerator, he now jumps over the cardboard boxes packed on each side, trying to chew on the wires behind it. Hoping to discourage this habit, Savannah adds a telephone book to the boxes, laughing as Re pops around the kitchen floor as if he were a kangaroo, his neck arched like a sea horse.
That evening, while Savannah eats a steaming dish of spinach lasagna and reads Jim Butcher’s latest wizard novel, Re climbs up her back and perches on her shoulder.
Surprised at his dexterity, she turns to the kitten, inches from her face. “You learn a new skill every day, don’t you?” she asks, laying her fork down to stroke the caramel fur on the top of his head, while he purrs with satisfaction, too content to consider leaping for her meal.
She breathes deeply, his coat still warm and spiced from a long nap with Thoth. “My cinnamon boy,” Savannah muses, thinking about the new game they play every morning, the one where Re hides beneath the dust ruffle of the bed. Every time she tosses a wiggling shoestring over the edge, he pounces quickly, grasping it between tiny milk teeth, yanking fervently, his prickly claws climbing the quilt, while Savannah slowly pulls him up to the top of the bed, as if she were fishing for kittens.
* * *
The temperature plummets the next morning. Savannah grabs a big Blessed Be sweatshirt from her closet and pulls it on over her nightgown. A few years ago she appliquéd this Pagan blessing in colorful fabric scraps across the front of gigantic fleece sweatshirts, which she then gave to all her friends as Yule gifts. Ravena still comments about how much she enjoys snuggling up in hers on cold days. Shaking her head, Savannah hangs the t-shirt she wore yesterday back in the closet.
“Must be South Carolina,” she says, voicing Ravena’s favorite comment.
The fickle weather in South Carolina never fails to surprise Savannah, a state where the temperature can rise or sink as much as sixty degrees in one day during every season of the year. Only the summer months remain consistent in humidity and scorching heat.
Due to the unpredictability of a Carolina winter, Savannah never removes her summer clothes from the closet. Yesterday was a good example. The fifth day of January, and temperatures scaled the seventies. But today the newspaper predicts a frigid high of only forty, while the low will plunge well below freezing.
“Must be South Carolina!” Savannah exclaims, rolling her eyes, as she slides her freezing feet into a pair of fuzzy house slippers, picks up Re, and pads into the kitchen to fix breakfast.
After feeding the cats, she pulls a cereal bowl from the cabinet and combines two tablespoons of firm tofu, one teaspoon of flax seed powder, and 1/8 cup of crushed walnuts. She stirs well and spreads the nutty mixture across two pieces of whole wheat bread, pressing them together to create a hearty breakfast sandwich. The tea kettle begins to whistle as she lifts it from the burner and pours boiling water over a bag of herb tea from the health food store Mirabella’s husband owns.
“Time to eat,” she announces, as she places the mug of tea next to the sandwich on a wicker tray, picks up one of Ravena’s catnip mice, and tosses it to Re.
* * *
Sunshine saturates this cloudless morning, and Savannah stops by the sliding glass door after breakfast to peek through the blinds at the back porch before pulling them open for the day. The porch gleams as empty as the two cat food bowls resting upon its sun-weathered boards.
Several months ago she heard a noise on this porch before going to bed one night. She flipped the light switch and discovered a tiny possum bouncing around on the plastic furniture, looking for food. She’d never stood so close to a living possum, which seized her imagination with its slim white face, onyx eyes, long pink nails, and ropey tail. She named it Blossom, and began leaving a bowl of dry cat food on the back porch for it every evening, which the possum greedily gobbled up during the licorice hours of the night.
Last week Savannah couldn’t sleep, so shortly after midnight she crept carefully into the kitchen for a glass of water, trying not to trip over one of the stuffed mice Re scatters across the house late at night. She heard the food bowl moving against the floor boards of the porch. Quickly, she turned on the outside light and peeked through the blinds, where she saw Blossom grasping the bowl between the long rosy pins of her claws, lapping up the last pieces of cat food, crunching gleefully. And behind Blossom, perched on a plastic chair, a gorgeous raccoon stared back at Savannah.
“Oh, my!” she gasped, shocked at the raccoon’s large size, which dwarfed her Maine Coon, Thoth, in bulk and height. Then this gorgeous creature, its shining eyes highlighted by a black mask, deftly swung across the porch railing with the grace of a monkey and vanished into the night.
Since then she fills two bowls of cat food each evening, one for Blossom and another for the mysterious raccoon.
* * *
That afternoon, while working in her office on a new order of handbags, Savannah hears a chorus of warblers feathering leafless trees with tunes they usually reserve for June. The unseasonable heat of the last few weeks seems to have drawn several songbirds home ahead of schedule from the tropical places they flee to when winter arrives in the Carolinas.
She pauses for a moment and closes her eyes to enjoy this musical treat, which not only reminds her of Wordsworth’s serene poetry but also soothes away the one aspect of January she dreads: the obvious lack of birdsong. But the shrill peal of the telephone interrupts her revelry, and Savannah sighs, grabbing the receiver before the answering machine responds.
“Stop that!” Mirabella shouts.
Savannah giggles and hears Mirabella swatting at one of her cats.
“Sorry,” Mirabella says, when she returns to the phone. “My youngest cat was chasing his mouse and crashed into my easel just as I dialed your number, almost knocking a wet painting to the floor.”
Savannah laughs. “Working with cats every day is always an adventure.”
“Tell me about it!” Mirabella exclaims, straightening her easel, its wooden legs scraping across the cement floor of her studio. “Anyway, how’s business?”
“A little slow,” Savannah replies. “Kind of odd for this time of year, but not devastating.”
Mirabella slides a stool over to her desk. “My sales are way off, and that’s why I’m calling,” she says. “I was talking to Nadine about this a few minutes ago, and she told me something so amazing I thought I would pass it along to you.”
Savannah lays aside the handbag she’s stitching. “Great!” she exclaims. “I’m all ears.” Re bounds into the office, and Savannah grabs him.
“You know how they say it’s the power of the Witch that determines the success of a spell?” Mirabella asks.
“That’s right,” Savannah answers. “Many times it’s more important than a complicated ritual.” Re collapses in Savannah’s lap and begins to purr, as she scratches his neck.
“And you know how some people always seem to be lucky?” Mirabella asks. “Everything they touch makes money.”
“Nadine says it’s the same spiritual law at work,” Mirabella says.
“Now you’ve lost me.”
“The spell works because the Witch believes it will,” Mirabella continues. “And a person is lucky with money because this is what that person truly believes.”
Savannah shakes her head and mutters, “I’m still lost.”
Mirabella giggles. “Me too, until Nadine explained it to me, and it’s so simple you’ll laugh too,” she says. “Words and thoughts create matter at a quantum level, so everything we see is a result of that, not the cause.”
Re drops his head to Savannah’s knee, and drifts to sleep. “Every Witch knows that,” she replies.
“So it is what a person believes that causes the manifestation,” Mirabella continues. “This means the economy has nothing to do with how much we sell, because all that matters is what we believe about our financial situation.”
Savannah strokes Re’s back. “I’m still lost.”
“If this is true, then all we have to do is state how much money we want to make this year, believe it no matter how grim circumstances might look, and it must come to pass,” Mirabella says. “From the standpoint of quantum physics, we’ve been given all the power.”
Savannah freezes. “Nadine is right!” she exclaims. “It’s so simple I completely missed it.” Re flexes his paws, and Savannah unloosens his needled claws from her thigh.
“I thought you might like this,” Mirabella says. “Now I need to cast a good prosperity spell for my business, fueling my intent with this new revelation.”
Savannah laughs. “Thanks,” she says. “Me too!”
* * *
After hanging up the phone, Savannah scribbles a few notes on the back of an envelope. “That should do it,” she says, laying the pen down and tucking Re’s curled body securely on her lap.
She glances at the Ace of Cups collage hanging on the wall in front of her, its sequined designs twinkling with the magick of love beneath the last licks of the afternoon sun. She focuses her intent, lifts her arms to create a sacred circle, and casts the spell:
Before the Goddess Bast;
before the vast Four Corners;
before the Guiding Elements
of Water, Air, Earth, and Fire;
before the Angels and the Fey;
on this sunny day I proclaim
and truly believe I receive
$100,000 in income this year
from my magickal handbag
business. So mote it be.
As Savannah lowers her arms, she thinks about what Nadine told Mirabella, knowing she must hold the essence of this spell in her mind every day to insure the success of its manifestation at a quantum level. In her mind she begins to see checks raining down, her personal power pulling the material realm toward this financial goal.
“The power the Witch believes she possesses means everything,” Savannah whispers, as she strokes Re’s velvet cheeks, while his paws flick against her leg, galloping through the flowered fields of dreamtime. “So mote it be.”
* * *
In the evening after her Esbat ritual, as the Cold Moon buttons the indigo jacket of the sky, Savannah hears the cat food bowls slide across the back porch. She creeps to the kitchen where Horus sits, staring through the blinds at the raccoon turning a bowl with delicate paws, etching the sides for every last morsel of food, the mask that wraps its face inked in black, its tail as bushy as a summer thistle.
“What do you think, Horus?” Savannah whispers to the cat sitting motionless in front of the sliding glass door, enchanted with this forest creature looming larger than his playmate, Thoth. “Let’s name her Clover, as if she were one of the wild field flowers in a Wordsworth poem.”
The raccoon gracefully swings up to the railing, where it washes its face, satisfied with a dinner of crunchy cat food.
“Good night, Clover,” Savannah whispers, closing the blinds, as an owl blows its serene flute in the top of a needled pine. “Blessed be.”
Copyright © 2007 by Laura Stamps