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, purging 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.
Each evening I begin unwinding myself, searching out the teasing thread that will lead to the knots wrangled tighter each day. As if I am a set of headphones snaring pocket lint in my tangled nets until I’ve frayed too far, and simply snap.
The coffee was cold, and the machine broken. Gabriel checked the plug, tried wiggling it in the socket and swore as the thing zapped him. ‘Smooth brother.’ Raphael stood with his head still bent over the control panel across the room. ‘If you’re done playing around, I need you to check these stability levels.’ He waved at a series of flashing lights. ‘Why call them that?’ Gabriel sucked the burn on his finger and edged towards the controls. ‘There’s nothing stable about this realm. Why bother keeping things ticking over. Why not fix it all, or simply hit the kill switch?’ Raphael’s brow tightened. ‘I prefer keeping in mind, even the possibility, that existence has its own reason for being. We’re here to keep the others from tampering.’ ‘Makes more sense to let them.’ ‘No brother, there is no sense in endings at all.’
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility that existence has its own reason for being.
Wisława Szymborska, ‘Possibilities‘
Tonight’s line for the prosery prompt was chosen by Merril, and is perhaps one of my favourite, ever, prompts. 144 words doesn’t feel like quite enough for this wonderful line, so I might have to come back to it later on and work this into a longer piece because ideas have been sparked, and it would be a shame to let them fizzle out.
The shock of it. A feather brush among brittle spines, and it’s body, whole, a weight unexpected from the straw I am scattering from these hands. Fallen, twice over now, from rafters, eaves, hollows above these stables, the last place this swift would know.
When I was younger and stayed with my grandparents on a regular basis, I used to help with mucking out the stables. I have such vivid memories of picking up a bale of straw, shaking it loose, and a dead bird tumbling out. My grandmother’s explanation was that the bird had died in the rafters and fallen into the bale. I’m not sure if that was actually how it ended up there, but it happened enough times that straw and hay bales have freaked me out slightly ever since. Not a great phobia for someone whose whole family has been involved in agriculture at some point or another. Today’s Quadrille prompt brought this memory bursting to the forefront, so despite my inability to so much as look at dead birds these days, I managed to work it into my response.
In less morbid news, happy International Women’s Day, and Women’s History Month! Over the weekend I posted a piece on Britain’s First Female Historian Catherine Macaulay. For those of you who know of Mary Wollstonecraft, Macaulay was a contemporary, and her ‘Letters On Education’ which call for equal education for girls and boys, predates Wollstonecraft’s ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’. While it’s not poetry, I would love to hear any thoughts anyone may have on the article as I’m now working on my third ‘Women In History’ piece which looks at the women of the Peasants Revolt in 1381.