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Harlots and Heretics

Harlots and Heretics - a bonfire burns, flames licking high against a black sky

Harlots and Heretics

‘Understand me now!’ she cried,
As in the ducking stool she writhed and twisted and tore her skin on God’s own rope.
For was HE not the one who put her there?
‘I am no witch, I am no whore, God made me, I am his!’
But feeble words were drowned, as icy water clamped her head in vice like claws,
And salted wounds erupted around voiceless screams.
‘My lungs explode,’ she thought, when once again clergy’s madman jerked her from deaths liquid grasp to flounder in the noisy air.
They cursed her long and loud, her crime of living more sickening to them than any murder.


‘I did nothing’ she gasped, as padre’s fist closed her mouth forever.
‘God, just let me die!’ she prayed as stars exploded in her mind,
But no such easy end awaited this fair maid.
They dragged her, silent, from the witches chair,
With hating hands, that introduced her to the cobbled street,
That broke her bones and bruised her skin with stony hard indifference.
‘Burn the witch’ chanted the children, infantile ignorance fed by prejudice and hate.

She hardly felt the snapping of her spirit as her bloody eyes beheld the wood.
Her funeral pyre, pointing to the brilliant sky,the finger of the devil mocking God.
They tied her, pierced her feet with broken twigs and lashed her shattered body, to prevent escape.
Their feeble minds rejoiced to see the greedy flames consume her flesh and melt the curse she whispered with her dying breath.
‘God loves you’ she thought, ‘why then could he not love me, when all I strove to do was save the child from death?’
‘Her death is mine’ she thought, and wondered, as they cut her down, why pain no longer racked her form.

They tossed her, smouldering onto a cart and drove her to the place the roads did cross.
And there she watched with molten eyes as eager hands removed the soil to make a pit that gaped like sin.
‘What happens here?’ she thought in fear, ‘have they not had enough of me?’
But as they tossed her into soil that tried to cool her smouldering flesh:
‘She’s dead!!’ they cried, ‘And now she lies at Satan’s gate for him to use as she deserves!’

Time passes.
Cold earth embraces her from all sides.
All that remains a body rotten and decayed that holds a mind,
That weeps and cries and echoes on the night,
‘God save me, am I not one of your own?’
There comes no reply,
Save the clicking of the devils tail as he advances.

© Cathie Tufnail

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