712 Readings

Encaged, as by God’s Good Rage

                      –Sarah Good, 1692, to her daughter Dorcas and a nursing baby

I never set some broken knife’s steel
blade to the afflicted, even as teal
tight, they flocked the pews, twisted eel-

like and crying. Milk daughters, I harbor
you, my own two yellow birds. Burr
my flesh, my familiars. Suck the meat or

sweat from between my fingers and spile
me. Dorcas Good, I forgive you your pile
of lies, the suckling snake you claim I

gave you, its flea-sized bite’s red mark.
Listen, little nameless one. Do not arc
and squirm away. I am no more rock

for woman to pitch against woman
than witch or hag. Motherhood’s an omen
that pricks and pinches, a needling in

the gut, drenching us all in blood-soaked
rags that we change in a privy’s oak
dark shame, and oh, we are all afflicted.
Posted 06/05/12
Published in The Iowa Review as "Sarah Good, Imprisoned, 1692"
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