The Second Witch


You wonder at the pricking of my thumbs?
Exsanguination took my shriveled womb.
I now must pay the price when bleeding comes;
to conjure truth and warn men of their doom.

We counseled not, that he should slay the king.
But only that Macbeth was born to reign;
his wicked bride said murder was the thing
to elevate Macbeth to rightful Thane.

This was the second time he’d sought our scry–
afraid that Banquo’s heirs would seize his throne.
Again we three began to prophesy
though his interpretations were his own.

We told him of Macduff and Birnam Wood–
that he need fear no man of woman born.
But from our words he took only the good,
not seeing our intention to forewarn.

Because the bloodshed started in my hand,
his lady could not extirpate her stain.
Like, calling unto like–at my command–
Macbeth continued on his mad campaign.

“Lay on, Macduff,” he shouted, unafraid,
not knowing how Macduff had come to be.
Cut from his mother’s womb with sharpened blade–
We’d tried to warn him in our prophecy.

I smile to think how fate could be so cruel.
As now Macbeth lay still among the dead.
For Duncan’s son would have his chance to rule,
the crown now being placed on Malcolm’s head.