In one version, the witch wins. What lesson in that, besides we get what we do not deserve? Cast out to follow a distant curl of smoke, we leave our past behind and find our way, or don’t. That smoke might come not from a chimney but the forest on fire— trees exploding, a column of flame two hundred feet high. Take off your leather coat, brother, and let me put my hands against your chest. Even if we stop in the middle of the story and set out alone over these acres of scorched earth filling up with more water than the sky can hold— still beyond us that curl of smoke that who’d blame us if we mistook for home?
From Take What You Want by Henrietta Goodman. Copyright © 2007 by Henrietta Goodman. Reprinted with the permission of Alice James Books.