If One Could But Change History . . .

What a sham! Poo on you!
You shall not still my tongue,
nor shall you have me.
Cash? Mere bribery.
You’ve noticed but my shapely form
and never asked my name.
My name is Ava. Tar it not.
You shall not name me a witch, sir.
I am a woman of substance.

And you sir, are but a juggernaut,
steamrolling your way
into petticoats of young girls.
Threatening them like Tituba,
dare they not succomb.
Poor Tituba, incarcerated,
questioned these many days.
I have talked with them all, sir.
No longer will they remain silent.

No longer are they your mollified band.
Ana and Sarah, Elizabeth,
Susannah, and Rebecca as well.
In church on the morrow, sir
they will bare their legs, thigh high.
Exhibit their bruises and mottled skin,
then point their fingers at you.
You are the witch sir.
May you burn in hell.

Written for Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe.

Today, Punam is hosting from India, where she’s been celebrating Diwali. She introduces us to a number of words from Indian languages that have become a part of the English language. For example, bandana comes from ‘bandhana’ which means to tie as well as ‘bandhej’ which is the art of tie-dye technique used on fabrics in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Punam provides us with 15 such words and asks us to include 4 in our poem. I’ve used 5: shampoo, cashmere, avatar, juggernaut, and bandana. See if you can find them all!

The poem obviously refers to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, and Rebecca Nurse were all convicted and hung.

You’ll find the photo here in an article written about Salem’s history. It’s the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin (1640 – 1718) and is the only structure you can visit in Salem today with direct ties to the Witch Trials. By the way, Salem is literally overrun with tourists this time of year! Living in Boston, we are but a 30 minute commuter rail trip away. We visit Salem in the summer for fun….don’t go near it in October!

11 thoughts on “If One Could But Change History . . .

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) October 25, 2022 / 3:11 pm

    It is so interesting that the witch process in Salem is so well known, while all over Europe witches were executed… In Sweden between 1668 and 1676 witches were executed (out of several thousands accused) in something that spread like an epidemic…

    Like

    • merrildsmith October 25, 2022 / 3:48 pm

      In Scotland, too–and as you said all over Europe, and also other places in British North America.

      Like

  2. paeansunplugged October 25, 2022 / 3:23 pm

    Lillian, I love what you did here with some of the words! A powerful write. Sadly, witch hunting still goes on here in the rural areas.

    Like

  3. merrildsmith October 25, 2022 / 3:50 pm

    So clever the way you divided the words, Lillian.
    I’m reading a novel now called The Women Could Fly about women again being accused of witchcraft and rights taken away.

    Like

  4. msjadeli October 25, 2022 / 4:34 pm

    One day,when time travel is possible, we will go back and right those wrongs. You’re right, the judges and other men who condoned burning “witches” need to be held to account. Women had to be silenced one way or another — and still do — but it isn’t as easy to do as it used to be. Thank you for calling attention to another chapter of inhumanity in our U.S. history.

    Like

  5. rothpoetry October 25, 2022 / 10:40 pm

    An interesting touch on past history, Lillian. Well done.

    Like

  6. rogblog666 October 26, 2022 / 1:32 am

    here in in England we had a character who called himself “the witch finder general” who took it upon himself to hunt witches.
    loved reading your poem

    Like

  7. Gillena Cox October 26, 2022 / 4:51 am

    Nice one!!!

    Much❤love

    Like

  8. Stacy MS October 27, 2022 / 3:54 am

    A very witty write…love your play on some of these words! Great little take on the Salem Witch Trials as well.

    Like

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