Up Witch’s Mountain

Briana L. Urena-Ravelo
4 min readDec 18, 2017
A witch at her cauldron surrounded by beasts. Etching by J. van de Velde II

Hunted, reviled, controlled.

Among people, I spent mere fleeting moments in places outside their deepest nightmares and fantasies.

Angry. Jezebel. Bitch. Whore.

A myth of Babylonian proportions. A character who bled the colors they painted her.

Goddess, mother, healer, fear.

I inhabited all plateaus, clouds, caves, gullies and hollows above and below but never at the level, not a second spent with them on earth. Though all else seemed within the realm of their horrid imagination, me as their equal yet escaped them.

And I reckoned with this, the phantasm of their pathology, the sickness of their entitlement, fears, anxieties, hungers, hopes, fever dreams that they infected me with. I tried to shake it, it pursued me even in my sleep.

I would play the role, then I would hate her, then I would love her again, but altogether I would beg for better odds, for a different outcome, for a voice, for another narrative, to be heard, to be seen, to be felt, to be held. I wrangled with that demon. I struggled with that ghost. I reeled at the isolation, anemic and thirsting from being rung for all my worth. I would rip parts of myself out and thrust it into the earth with hopes to grow a truer skin and a clearer voice and found I could not conjure a sufficient rhyme, reason, rhythm or form I both found adequately true to my self and with the ability to lull them into belief. I was only what they made of me. And I became lost in the maelstrom.

But with time I came to anchor myself and dig deeper into the darkness at the edge of what they twisted to their own ends, where they feared to tread and what was yet unfathomable to them, the depth that birthed me, into the ether of neither here nor there, sifting through black holes, listening to the echoes of centuries of loss and what they could tell me and what they wouldn’t dare, into the pit of my own past and our mutual despair.

Intertwining these recollections and poems and words and experiences I spun a self in secret, on a dark wooden loom, weaving an unadulterated and braver form and meaning, and she was terrifying, beautiful, glorious. Riddled with enchantment and power, with protection and grace, with heaviness and turmoil, with light and glory, with mania and sweetness.

And I carried her far, far away, into the proverbial refugee of those before me who ran from all that would chase, who wanted to extract their bodies of all the worth and work and leave the rotten husks to float in the Caribbean, scaling rocks, stony faces, ragged trees rooted firmly into earth, rolling hills, up, up, up, deeper into foggy mountains, the only place where she’d ever be safe. And made her a home fit for such a beast.

I will tell you same as I’ve told the rest, as I’ve myself-you cannot dominate or rule me. You cannot make a home of my form. You will not demand occupancy in my realm, you will not gain entrance. You will not have my energy, my body, you will not have my soul. No matter how much you want it, no matter how much you beg.

But you will hear me, you will see me, you will feel me, deep. To the bone, at your throat. Rattling, ragged, ricocheting across stone faces, like a growing unshakable sickness, like a deep thrusting urge, like an uncryable sob. Even if you don’t want it. Even if my voice and image compound and pursue and repeat like a siren, disorienting you, sucking you into its tide, over and over and over, building, mounting, drowning out reason, drowning out thought, pulling you further, further, down.

You wanted me, and by god, you’ll have her.

I will thunder and I will shake over these lands and you will not temper, quell, take or have me. You cannot stop me. You will not ever truly know me but you will know, be haunted by the fearsome unknowable, the abyss.

Your anger will not shake me and I shriek in frenzied laughter at your demands. I will not let your dissatisfaction, your desire, your greed, in all of its sugared fancy that I once trailed after, rot me.

I was never who you thought I was and I will never cease to be the creature you wish I wasn’t, of spitting meanness, of ancient bitterness, of power and rage unstoppable.



Briana L. Urena-Ravelo

Writer. Community organizer. Errant punk. Ne’er do well. Fire starter. Email: Dominicanamalisima@gmail.com