Today's poem is by Rebecca Dunham

Ergot Theory
        Ann Putnam in Salem, Massachusetts, 1692

It is a holy fire, this budding
body pricked and tingling. I set it
going with a single egg, henhouse-
hot, balanced atop my drinking
glass: a clutch in the belly

and I fall, convulsing, spine pressed
to unmade bed. Early snows
tangle tree and swampy meadow
like a sheet. I desire to lie in its dust,
aril earnestly beg
, a mongrel

bewitched by cake of rye and urine.
Through the kitchen, doctors
come and go, muttering that I'm
delusional. I pestle summer's sun-
baked kernels of rye to a meal.

This is the devil I have loosed,
its feet black and spurred as a cock's,
Rev. Parris claims, my vision
a mere blood-red globe of polished
fruit. I rock the grindstone back

and forth, either instrument of evil
or its victim. Back and forth, its
rhythm is the rhythm of a woman's
skirted body, tolling Gallows Hill
like a church bell clapper.

Copyright © 2010 Rebecca Dunham All rights reserved
from The Flight Cage
Tupelo Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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