For you a few brave cowards would hesitate,
question the tradition of ‘only following orders’ –
the endless backward stretch of human
horrors – men who viewed condemnation
as a sport, locked their cages on frail old women
without a second look. But Dorothy, so small,
it took three of them to bring you in – not for fears
of bites and scrapes, snake familiars, the beastly
instincts of a feral witch – but the sight of a slight
form in the New England winter, your manacled
wrists, hands chained blue in Salem prison
instead of mittened against the cold.
I think about how your mother was the same age
I am now, but far more devout, and never cast a spell –
and how it began with her: accusations and denial.
You live on as a footnote – the baby who was born
and died in a cell where Sarah waited for the noose,
the baby she named after an impossible fate.
And her time came to join you, but not before
she learned at last to call down a curse worked
by the hands of God; one they could not break.
*Sarah Good, along with Sarah Osborne and Tituba, was one of the first women to be accused at the beginning of the Salem witch trials of 1692. Her daughter Dorothy, age four, was also accused and imprisoned for witchcraft, and her daughter Mercy was born and died in Salem prison.
Kate Garrett is the editor of three web journals, and her own writing is widely published. Her first full-length collection, The saint of milk and flames, is forthcoming from Rhythm & Bones Press in April 2019. She lives in Sheffield, UK with her husband, five children, and a sleepy cat.