Walpurgis Night

The moon peers down on a dark sweep of witches
flying in bat-wing formation to meet
on a tall German mountain peak this April 30 evening.

It’s Walpurgis Night, celebrating Saint Walpurga,
a nun who converted pagans in Germany
and was said to have wiped out
both smallpox and witches from Europe.

The holiday is celebrated each year
on the night before May 1, Beltane,
the pagan Spring Equinox —
another holiday co-opted by Christianity,
its remnants reconfigured.

Though some Beltane customs survive on this night,
like wild dancing and risky jumping over bonfires —
Walpurgis Night has become a sort of spring Halloween
when people dress up in costumes and make loud noises to keep the witches away.

But the witches are still here —
Saint Walpurga did not defeat them all.
They fly from Europe and Scandinavia on this night
to this yearly witch convention!

Soaring through the clouds they come,
some on brooms, some by jetpacks
or in coach seats on planes.

They are senior citizens, millennials, Gen Z and beyond,
all accompanied by their unfamiliars:black panther cubs,
snakes, sloths, or companion ferrets.

Some are trans, some cis, some a gender unknown.
All scarily beautiful, and very alive.

At night’s end, the witches hug, wave goodbye, cry a little
and call to their sisters in magic as they soar away:
See you again next April!

[Lorraine Schein is a New York writer. Her work has appeared in VICE Terraform, Witches & Pagans, Strange Horizons, Star*Line, and Little Blue Marble, and in the anthologies Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana del Rey & Sylvia Plath, and Eighteen. The Futurist’s Mistress, her poetry book, is available from mayapplepress.com.]