'She's a bit weird,' they said,
hurrying past her place as if being different
was somehow contagious.
A Green Man stood sentry by the front door,
and a miniature Stonehenge dominated
an unmowed, weed-conquered lawn.
Deadly nightshade and foxgloves grew profusely
along it's borders, and from the roof of her shed
hung bunches of drying herbs.
'She's either a Witch or a mad woman,' they surmised,
wondering if that freshly-dug patch of soil
might be the grave of some hapless victim.
She'd cast a spell on her next door neighbours,
they knew, because the daughter ran away;
the cat was run over; and then they split up.
That house had been on the market
for over six months as no one would touch it
because she'd been seen, they'd heard,
performing some sort of ritual in billowing robes:
wafting incense smoke over the fence
while chanting in tongues, ringing bells
and whirling like a Dervish.
'She should be locked away,' they concluded,
'from normal decent people like us:
not be allowed to roam free and corrupt
our children with her devilish ways!'
She packed her belongings and quietly departed
soon after those harsh words reached her ears.
And they patted themselves on the back with pride
for ridding their town of her evil presence.
New people live there now who tell
of amulets of love and healing they've found,
and of the tranquil atmosphere inside their home.
'She was a wonderful person - we really liked her.
We can't imagine why why she left,'
they say now, with averted eyes
and fingers crossed behind their backs.
And their words belie a nervous unease.
Do they truly believe themselves jinxed?
Or is it simply the working out
of a Universal rule that decrees:
Your every deed, whether good or ill
will return to you in kind - times ten?