B Y   P H O E B E   R E E V E S

We must not omit children 
                                         who come to night 
with limbs and tongue unpunished. 

                                                           Pregnant women are always 
suffering from grace, and eat 
                                             thorns, bones, and bits of wood.

Some who afterwards burned confessed 
                                                               that their heads, their 
brains, had wrapped around their wills. 

                                                               The world will be useful 
for their silence. When they kill 
                                                   the midwife by the kitchen fire

they cross over hidden art 
                                         and witness their crime of doubt. 
To what end do they hate the virgins 

                                                            and witches and children? 
They deceive the earth and appear empty 
                                                                before the poor. 

A child who has been punished 
                                                 for the sins of the father 
inflicts his own sins 

                               on us. And the result 
is crime. Their mothers follow
                                               as a sacrifice to Beginning 

and End. And this sacrifice 
                                          is a debt. 
Children are always 

                                the daughters of witches. Their mothers 
have to leave behind their knowledge 
                                                           of drought and rain, 
hailstorms and tempests. 
                                        Men asked 
the name of the rain and burned.

Note: This poem is a part of a book-length project which erases the Malleus Maleficarum, or the "Hammer of the Witches",
a text that was used during the Inquisition to hunt and convict witches, written by Heinrich Kramer and James Springer.

T H E   M I D W I V E S

Phoebe Reeves earned her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College, and now teaches English at the University of Cincinnati’s Clermont College in rural southern Ohio, where she advises East Fork: An Online Journal of the Arts. Her chapbook 'The Lobes and Petals of the Inanimate' was published by Pecan Grove Press in 2009.  Her poems have recently appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Drunken Boat, Phoebe, and Radar Poetry.


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