Sally Martin, 1610-1647
Naked beside the sea, she conjured storms;
at night she danced out in the ancient wood
and tasted Morgan’s bread, summoned the fays
out of their forest hiding places, saw
the stars arc through the sky, the planets gleam
in holy darkness. Dawn would see her kneel
and worship. Whispering, all around her, came
the voices of the ancient ones. One night,
dancing around the summer solstice fire,
she heard the bushes shake. Out of the dark
came Cromwell’s men, surrounding their coven—
breastplates and cuirasses, muskets and swords
and champing horses. She was told to dress
and tied up with the others. When the dawn
came with its healing light they led her out.
The ox-cart ready, nooses neatly tied,
last words, the rope, the blindfold, then the drop—
four silent bodies: three men and one wench.
“Let them hang all day,” the Captain said,
“but cut them down at sunset, as they did
the five Kings of the Canaanites who fell
into the hands of Joshua.” Near dusk,
as shadows lengthened, swords cut through the ropes.
The bodies fell. They buried them facedown,
ropes still around their necks, their hands still tied,
not facing toward the east—so Christ would see
their feet and backs (which they had turned on him),
their nether parts, not their expectant eyes,
when he arose like lightening in the sky
to judge mankind and make his kingdom sure.
By David Landrum
David W. Landrum teaches Literature at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. His poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous journals. He edits the online poetry zine, Lucid Rhythms, www.lucidrhythms.com.