Friday, February 26, 2016

The Witch Series

History: The Immolations

Imagine fifty thousand
women on fire at once,
illuminating the shifty
landscapes of time.

Fifty thousand queens
on thrones of cord wood
drenched in oil, then set ablaze,
as they gaze at the men who despise them.

Watch their feet blacken, then their legs,
pudenda, bellies, wombs, their breasts
and hearts, their mouths agape, screaming
into silence, arms with match head hands alight,
hands adept at catching babies, making balms,
tinctures, poultices, offering small comforts, spells
for rekindling hope, draughts of blessed forgetting.

Smell their hair burning. Know them
for what they were, and still are: grandmothers,
mothers, wives, daughters, spinsters, lesbians,
midwives, nuns, saints, wise women, healers,
inventors, women who speak up for others,
who have little care for obedience any more.

Take the ash of their sacrifice into yourself.
Understand it as the benediction,
you need right now, to carry on.
Imagine them strung across the horizon, 
brighter than all the stars.

1 comment:

Helen Lowe said...

What a sad poem, Eileen, but a great one, too, to read on International Women's Day.