The Witch of Whitney


A logging town of the nineteen hundreds.
The North Fork Burnt River watershed.
Feeds its meager few.
On underground aquifer flues.


High desert plateaus windswept and blown.
Her witch wind chills to the bone.
Lone cabins sit their wood silver and brown.
In this lonely lost ghost town.


There she rests silent as stone.
On a barb wire side road all alone.
Under pure pioneer skies.
The winds through the pines sigh.


Brooding and silent a moniker from the past.
A view back in time’s looking glass.
Has its hold upon me.
I return every five years to see.


The same buildings and saw mill.
Through this hall of the Blue Mountains Grille.
Sage brush in silver and green hues.
Huge tumbleweeds roll in and out of view.


I turn off of Route seven southwest.
Onto Whitney’s road in barb wired dressed.
I park my motorcycle and walk up the road.
And I wonder how many wagons this way rode.


The wind whispering through ancient bleached lumber.
Tells me she’s awaking from her slumber.
A vaporous apparition forming over the old railed jitney.
The wind whines “Tis the Witch of Whitney!”


I stand mesmerized at this gathering scene.
Her hair silver and sparkles with a brilliant sheen.
Flowing back from her face with predatory gleam.
Swirling in a silver mist she beams.


Photonic brilliance in the noon day sun.
Leaves me dumbfounded and undone.
Emerald green eyes boring into my soul.
Searches for some virtue to extol.


“Who are you?” She asks of me.
“You are unlike the others I see.”
“I am the story teller of this place.”
I say to her, feeling unworthy in her grace.


“And what is your name?” she asks.
Her piercing gaze takes me to task.
“I am David” I tell her.
“David?’ her voice sublimes to a purr.


“Hebrew for beloved.” She muses.
I detect a note of sadness colored by abuses.
In her beautiful emerald eyes.
Tears spilling from them as she tries.


To hold on to her fierce composure.
Born of this ghost town exposure.
“Well David my brave storyteller.”
“Tell them my story.” Her eyes becoming stellar.


Distant and lost.
Reliving the past they accost.
And I wonder at the cost?
And I wonder at what tragedy crossed?


This woman’s past.
To see these events cast.
“I once had me a man dearie.”
She awakens from her reverie.


“He went hunting one morning and never came back.”
And her silver hair became as sparkling and black.
“And every morning I would go to the trail he left on.”
“The wind would tell me, he’s gone Linda he’s gone.”


And so the wind blew into my face.
I could smell her ancient perfume and grace.
I could feel the tears on her face.
I could feel the pain in her heart.


And I could smell gun smoke.
And I could see what this smell evoked.
I was looking down the barrel of a murderer’s gun.
Watching this terrible deed be done.


And she whirled around and looked at me.
With a look in her eye terrible to see.
Her predatory nature had returned.
A ravenous fire within her emerald eyes burned.


“”You have witnessed his death?”
Her words now on an icy breath.
“I have seen this deed through the murderer’s eyes.”
“Your man’s bones in a valley there lie.”


I spoke to her with a trembling tongue.
I could see my words were hurtful and stung.
But she understood and she asked of me.
If I would fetch his remains for her to see.


 And so I told her I would do this for her.
Her eyes softened and became as they were.
So she told me that she could not leave this place.
My heart ached for the sadness within her face.


So I found the old trail and left that very day.
I came upon some bones along the way.
Moss and pine needles covering their catch.
I brushed off the skull with a rag patch.


Around the neck I found a silver locket.
With a silver chain through the socket.
And I opened the ancient cover.
This picture to my eyes discovers.


This picture of Linda the Witch of Whitney.
That lives under the rails of the old jitney.
And I knew that this was her man.
So I put his remains in the pack and began.


My trip back down the trail to the old town.
The wind whistled and sighed and blew down.
The trail from me into town.
And it made a wailing and mournful sound.


I came to the meadow behind the sawmill.
At the top of this gentle sloping hill.
I saw the Witch swaying atop the old jitney rails.
Swaying in the breeze her tatter shawl sails.


I took off my pack and laid the bones upon the ground.
And her crying made a sad and gentle sound.
An acquisition of grief down through the years.
I could not even restrain my own tears.


So I removed the locket and held it out at arm’s length.
And it became heavy and took all my strength.
She hovered over me and her tears fell into my hand.
And they washed away the years and the sand.


Until the locket shone in the bright sun.
But her tears still would not be done.
So she asked me to touch her hand.
In the middle of this strange lonesome land.


I did not think I could touch this ghost of Whitney.
I wondered about the strange things on this journey.
So I took her hand in mine, and it was warm.
And I found that it had human form.


The color returned to her hands.
But I could not understand.
Life returned to this woman in front of me.
And this wonderment happened for me to see.


And she said to me.
“Thank you David for you have set me free.”
“I can now leave this place you see.”
“Your concern for me was the key.”


So I took this woman into the next town.
And she smiled at me as she got down.
Off the motorcycle and stood before me.
A beautiful woman proud and noble to see.


“I will see you again some day.”
Her beauty roams the isles in my mind.
And at times I find.
I can hear her voice on the wind say.


“I am coming your way.”
And so I wait a little every day.
For this lady from Whitney.
I saw on this strange journey.


I see her in the full moon at night.
And I see her in the shadows of twilight.
She visits me in my dreams.
This specter from a ghost town seems.


Closer with each day that passes.
This lady from Time’s eye glasses.
Tonight this woman materialized in my living room.
Swirling silver mist in the gathering gloom.


Obsidian hair flowing in some astral breeze.
Her emerald eyes beaming to please.
Only to me.
Only to see.


Her peace of mind in those limitless eyes.
That no longer bear her tears and cry.
I don’t understand any of this.
“You don’t have to” from her breathy kiss.


And so dear reader a story from the rails of the old jitney.
About a Witch to a Woman from Whitney.
And I swear it’s all true.
I swear by my tattoos.


Dave Proffitt
1:22 AM


















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