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.
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.
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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