In a dirt-drawn circle, Juan waits.
Nightfall. The old people say
boys and men, blessed with the name Juan,
hold the power to catch witches.
To trap Señora Chonita, he wears
an inside-out shirt like superstitious travelers
afraid of her curses. While he scratches
his neck red, eyes adjusting to dusk,
a coyote noses into the plaza,
the way witches become orbs of light
wandering between villages.
The coyote sees him, sniffs the air,
enters the circle. Juan yells, ¡Venga, bruja!
The coyote panics and shakes, fur melting
to cold naked skin. She crouches,
squints at him. Juan never stops fearing
Señora Chonita even when townspeople,
clutching torches and bullied prayers, loom
over her just before they kill her. Forever after
Juan is trapped, like a witch in a circle,
afraid of feeling the grip of clawed hands
dragging him into the desert.
Juan J. Morales is the author of the poetry collection, Friday and the Year That Followed, and has published in many journals. He received his MFA from the University of New Mexico, he is a CantoMundo Fellow, and he directs the Creative Writing at Colorado State