Do witches burn the way they used to?
When passions got God’s goat and love’s fire
curled his heavenly lip with infinite disgust,
did they burn more fiercely then in the face of that cold regard?
And for whom did they burn?
Way back when they’d swim – or float, at least –
while everyone else went straight to the slimy bottom
to sit there, bubbles rising from the mouth and nostrils
until there was no more air to send back to air.
Do witches burn the way they used to --
tied to a post in the town square?
God would take a soul fire had stripped
of sin, some said. By law we kill the witch,
the burning’s a favor. A little water
dribbled on a forehead just won’t quench sin so red.
Time was you’d look to the sky and see a body –
spread arms ending in spread fingers.
robes flapping about the torso like flames –
and you’d think, “It’s an angel!”
Unless it was a woman, then, “Witch!”
What do people decide in such a situation these days?
Don’t witches burn the way they used to?
When it’s an offering they’ve put a match to,
a smudge of sage, the herb that clears the room
of angry spirits. Oh, don’t be stupid. You knew that!
A campfire. A fire for cooking. Witches burn.
The casserole forgotten in the oven. That, too.