Witch Hunt: Salem
Step in. It’s cooler in here.
Darker, too, though.
She must have heard them coming.
Men. Horses. A wagon. A righteous mission.
They came by night, cloaked in darkness.
There. By the fireside.
She must have waited there.
The fire warmed her pill box house
as her family gathered around her
seeking solace and strength.
She was a good Christian woman.
She must have been praying to God --
to a god whose Bible
said she must die.
For a mark. A mumble. A rat. A cat.
She had them all.
She must have known it was useless.
She was helpless against them.
They had power. Zeal. Torches. Rope.
She must have gone calmly and piously.
That was her way.
She had gotten old being that way,
day after day, faithfully.
She had tended the fields, the flowers, the fires,
but mostly her family --
her straitlaced husband and her eight children.
who now gathered around her,
struck silent by fear.
She must have realized
she would be jailed, whipped, starved, tortured,
then hanged from the gallows,
left to swing there in the dark night
until she was cut down and buried
in the hard, cold earth.
No one knows where.
Step out, now.
Watch the light. It can hurt your eyes.
Editor's Note: Rebecca Nurse, 71, was hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. The poet visited her homestead and was moved by the experience and the cover art, depicting Nurse's home, of the book she bought, first published in 1930.
Cynthia Pitman has had poetry published in Literary Yard and Right Hand Pointing. The title of the RHP issue, The White Room, was from her poem, and the artwork was designed around it. She has poetry forthcoming in Amethyst Review and Postcard Poems and Prose, and a short story forthcoming in Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art.
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