They fill her grave up with hindsight. Shift the weight of blame to keep her bones in the mud, her soul buried under reasoning, as if the stake wasn’t enough they must reform her a monster. Imagine her rising half clothed in skin, ribcage a broken casket heart still guttering not all the way extinguished. That way her howling can be dismissed as nothing more than yes, yes, yes.
Who missed a day of NaPoWriMo, not me that’s for sure. The Day Six prompt was “Go to a book you love. Find a short line that strikes you. Make that line the title of your poem. Write a poem inspired by the line. Then, after you’ve finished, change the title completely.”
I decided to follow on from Day Five, and chose the last line from the Fiona Benson poem that inspired me, “The woman is blamed” (from [Not Zeus: Medusa I] – ‘Vertigo and Ghosts’).
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.
Born Catherine Sawbridge on the 23rd March 1731, she gained an informal education in her father’s library alongside her brother at their family home in Kent. She moved to London in 1760, upon her marriage to Dr George Macaulay and three years later published the first of her extensive eight volume History of England that spanned from the succession of James I to the Revolution. Part way through the third volume of her history, her husband passed away, leaving her widowed with a single daughter (Catherine Sophia) from the marriage. She remained in London for a while, before moving to Bath in 1774 where she met her second husband William Graham. The marriage caused scandal. As the brother of her physician, son of a saddle maker, and only a mere Surgeon’s Mate1, William was considered beneath Mrs Macaulay. They remained together until her death on the 22nd June 1791 at the age of sixty at their home in Binfield on the Thames, near Windsor. In her memory, William dedicated a memorial to her in the local parish church nearby.
‘You have a twig,’ he says fingers already picking at the knots and brambles thorned in her hair. ‘There’s a leaf caught,’ powdery fragile in the blonde, whispers of skeleton, rib rack of split ends. ‘Let me get that for you,’ sharp syllables, blunt nails, loose strands and dandelion sap rooted out from the scalp. ‘Isn’t that better now,’ no question, answer indisputable, pretty plastic petals painted white for the mirror to show.
I’m in love with the piece of art above, so much so that I’m planning on buying a print of it after payday. Though I’m a little torn between this one and her piece ‘Sisters’. I’ll have to pick one and maybe allow myself a second at Christmas.