‘The Witches: A Folk Tale’ by Daniel Bosch


Photograph by Andy Beecroft

From The Stockholm Review of Literature:


Summer. Dawn.

The camera sees what a 17 year-old boy sees when he stands where a path meets a paved road at the edge of a dirt farm. The boy peers to his right and sees the empty road stretch through farmland to the horizon. The boy peers to his left and sees the empty road. He can read, not far up ahead, a sign that states the nearest town’s name and a distance: 5. Cars trundle past him in the direction of town: one, two, three, four, five. The boy’s gaze follows each car until its dark form is absorbed by the curve of the earth.



The boy’s father calls: “Go on, then.”  The camera sees what the boy sees: the legs, then the rear end, and then the back of his father, clad in dirty, torn, and patched coveralls. His father is bent over the front left axle of a tractor. There is no front left wheel; the tractor’s weight is borne by a stump. The boy can see, beyond the tractor, the wooden front porch of his father’s house, crowded with furniture and bric-a-brac.

His father’s voice again: “Go on.  It’s family. She may not last.”

The camera’s gaze returns to the boy’s father’s body. It zooms in on a small abstraction in sweat that paints the back of his neck, then it shifts to the road. The boy’s father has not looked up from his labor.

The boy calls back: “All right, then.”

He steps into the road. He walks away from town.



The camera sees what the boy sees as he follows the road through fallow farmland, walking close to the shoulder. The camera sees what the boy sees as a car or two or three passes, headed toward town: idle headlights, flashes of glass and chrome, trunks, rumble seats. One car honks.

More rural landscape, barely tended farms. Birds startled from brush at the roadside. A snake warming itself in the road hears the boy approach and slides into the grass as boy and camera watch. The boy walks until he reaches the river. Parallel trestle bridges cross it: one with a single lane for cars, the other wide enough for twin train tracks, northbound, southbound. The boy uses the railroad bridge to cross the river. As he crosses he looks down into muddy water that swirls below. Water birds call.


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