#NaPoWriMo – Day Five – [Not-Guilty: A Witch I]

[not-Guilty: A Witch I]

Pleaded innocent for hours,
reading as guilty
when she protested
in that shrieking, crackle voice

and choked on
communion wine prayers
with her mouth full
of spells.

It does people some good
roping up witches,
evil from the world

the woman is blamed.

I’m mixing two prompts this evening. NaPoWriMo’s Day Five challenge to mirror the layout and of an existing poem that I admire, (I chose a Fiona Benson poem from her collection ‘Vertigo & Ghosts’) and the DVersePoets Quardrille prompt: wine. During the 17th century there were a number of ‘tests’ to prove the innocence or guilt of a person accused of witchcraft. One of those ‘tests’ was to offer them communion or to have them recite the Lord’s Prayer. If they choked, of stumbled over the words then it was proof of their guilt. Fiona Benson’s poem [not-Zeus:Medusa I] ends on the line “the woman is blamed” which I’ve kept the same, but I’ve not followed the syllable count exactly.


  1. A wonderful poetic portrayal of the custom, one I had not heard of. How interesting. I like the vivid visuals you offer here…”choked on communion wine prayers” and “mouth full of spells.”


  2. I’m trying to imagine myself not choking when my life depends on not choking 😦

    Some things have changed since the 17th century, but others only shapeshifted. (and I know you already know that.)


  3. I wouldn’t encourage the mixing of drinks, but this mixing of prompts is a perfect cocktail, Carol! As you know, I love anything to do with the supernatural and witchery. When we spent some time in Oxford a couple of years ago, I went to the Ashmolean’s exhibition on witchcraft. These lines are so powerful:
    ‘…choked on
    communion wine prayers
    with her mouth full
    of spells’
    and I like way you kept the line from the original poem as your last line.


  4. I enjoyed this Carol! We live just a quick commuter rail ride away from Salem, MA – the home of the witch trials. It is quite a place to visit. We go once a summer — there’s a wonderful art museum there plus we always go into a witches museum or two. One thing for sure, we NEVER go there in the month of October. It is JAMMED in October and really packed at halloween!


    1. Salem is odd because the witch hunts happened so late after the witch craze had sort of passed in Europe. It’s a good example of how hysteria can rip through a community though.


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