Cards on the Floor in the Shape of a T

by Jane-Rebecca Cannarella

For a short time I lived with three witchy women, a name by which they called themselves. The trio were smoky girls who painted coal eyeliner on their waterline and left rings of red lipstick on the edges of clove cigarettes. They didn’t wear ill-fitting peasant tops, they weren’t obsessed with fantasy novels. All three luxuriated around the apartment liked bored cats, hanging off the arms of couches. Each draped themselves along a favorite piece of shitty, secondhand furniture.

Nag Champa incense burned in every windowsill. My boyfriend said the apartment smelled like Buddha’s asshole. I told him Nag Champa was Indian, not Buddhist.

My witches were named after Greek prophets and songs from the 70’s. Our place was filled with pestles, and mortars, and handmade tapestries, and burning herbs, and rocks they called crystals. One time I threw away a cracked piece of amber glass, and experienced their fury for destroying a tiger’s eye. It had looked like a piece of sharp garbage.

During humid evenings, our resident prophet of doom would divine the future by placing cards on the floor in the shape of a T. She’d wave the painted figures in front of our faces, proclaiming the power of the eight of swords. The poet crone told me about the fantastic sex that was in my future after looking at the dredges of tea leaves in my mug. A prayer for the future, I spun the cup on top of the saucer three times with my left hand.

The witchy women would vacillate between mysticism and the everyday every day, existing somewhere in the purgatory of reality.

I’d come home to a note on the door that said,


, which means “buy tampons” in ancient runic symbols.

Before they went to sleep, the girls would gather like a nest of field mice in a large bed with a black comforter. They watched reality TV shows and drank Malibu rum, and in the morning our lake goddess’ painted-on eyebrows would be smudged to inky Rorschach tests.

On the back of my astrological birth chart, one of them had written an angry note about the dishes not being done. Scrawled underneath was a second note explaining how we needed to break our old broom and leave the pieces at a previous apartment because we’d obviously brought the past’s bad energy with us.

Shortly before I left for good, I’d come home to the witches crowded on a couch, dipping their hands into a paper bucket of fried chicken – their cauldron of power.  Heads on each other’s shoulders, they watched re-runs of Gilmore Girls. Someone had just burnt sage to purify the apartment. Our home smelled like Thanksgiving.

Jane-Rebecca Cannarella is an editor at HOOT Review, a crazy cat lady, and a Nutella enthusiast. She received her BA and M.Ed from Arcadia University, attended Goldsmiths: University of London, Sarah Lawrence College, and is finishing up her MFA at Antioch University. When not poorly playing the piano, she chronicles the many ways that she embarrasses herself at the website She occasionally drinks wine out of a mug that has a smug poodle on it, and she’s not wonderful at writing in the third person.

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