Martin Hanged as a Witch
In the forest she gave me this poem
drained and folded
upon a rock
is, by winter draped,
where I am emptied
by the early morning
fallen empty to the ground
this ground my father plowed
this ground that plowed me under
under the maps and wills and boundary lines.
a mere woman, was to have the land, the land was to be mine
and men would not let the moonlight give the lands
to hands the world would say weren't mine;
these curling hands that stooked the hay
and milked the cows
and held the bucket that dipped the moon
from the well
that carried stars on water until my eyes were dizzy with the look
and instead of bringing water deep into the farmhouse
I spun around and my skirt was at the circles edge and I was the
center of the spin
and I stopped and all the moons and stars and skies spun around
until I twirled the bucket in lazy loops over my head and down and
and no drops were spilled and my arm was a spinning whirly-gig
and no drops spilled no stars fell out.
land, it was said, should not be mine,
a woman at the center of the moon
a woman who in the night could lift her eyes and move into the moon
a woman who could feel the mantle of the trees rest
light upon my shoulders and spill along my back my hair released
down my back
back to the house that was so empty , empty of the moon, empty of
empty of the trees and night
a tree is in the fireplace
moved to order by the sharp edge of the world cut by straight lines
by straight hanging lines.
I got my reputation for being dangerous was simple enough.
One morning I looked and saw the world and at the same time saw
how men had taken straight lines where no straight line existed
in the world
and cut the face and bosom of the earth with their straight lines.
mother soft and curved and skirt wrinkled spread in a circle around
made no straight lines
when she gazed out at the land and I was at her rounded breast and
nipple made a long circle for my lips
and her milk spilled, and washed a flood into my mouth and a gush
Men looked at the land and they held guns
and the guns were straight and aimed at the sun,
dark lines against the sky
while other men joined lines across the land,
and anywhere the land was crooked they
set it straight and began measuring for meadows and began cutting
and straightened them out with the straight line of two-handed
cross-cut saws and ripped the circles from the edges
and burned the branches, and didn't notice the smoke would not rise
the smoke would curl and clasp the sun and tickle trees.
was older and one morning saw all the edges
that men had placed to cut the heart of the world.
My father, belt buckle angled metal and, sharp knife at his belt,
fence-lines drawn across the land
with hammer in his hand hit long straight nails
to hammer the world together
to hammer the world straight.
I learned the land could be mine, I knew that I could set it free.
I told them I would tear down the house and make it as rounded as
an owl's wing
I would tear down the barn
and make it curled and curved like a squirrels tail,
spiraled as the head of a ram
and there would be no fences, and even the well would go because
a straight tube drilled into the eyes of the world to make her cry.
land, they said, the men who keep the world
straight like a road that does not wander, is not to be yours
and told the court that only a witch would want such roundness
only a witch knew how to climb inside the moon.
is a witch they asked?
witch is she who does not want the world to be ordered and controlled,
who thinks each tree a living thing
and will not see a tree as plank
and will not see a tree
as table and chair
and sharp-edged buckboard.
is she who may worship what is seen.
witch, they said, must have one straight line, one that takes her
where she is to go in a straight line
This is the law of man and straight-edged bible.
Why, said I, this bible is a crooked book a curved book
see, here, the Jesus you talk of
stopped hands that were to throw sharp rocks ...
blasphemes they said
and Jesus loved, to his heart, women.
He loved a whore I say
loved her and threw the bankers from
his father's house
the straight line clank of money
gone as gold clattered
your gold is not true gold I told them
is gold of
hearts like a small hard house
The devil cannot catch a person unless there is a corner...
speaks of devils
she says she lives inside the moon
she blows the dust from water before she drinks.
see the curves Let us tear down houses and
see the swell of the earth beneath them.
And they close their ears they hard-hand
straight edge press to block the sound
stop my voice.
lead me to the scaffold
they hold me
by the arms and buckle my arms so my arms are an angle
they lead me
from a room.
now holds an ocean
towards your eyes.
stand before my house,
house of rope and gargoyle
that lead through
circles of rope.
of rope burns.
straight line of rope
holds my hands
so much my hands
that they stretch
on arms of
on your shoulder.
am here holding you by the shoulders because....
there is no straight line to your heart
Your heart is round I know it must be
with blood curve if you hear me this far away
your ears swirling inwards to the curves and earth-tone of your
and you have heard me my voice round and warm between the years.
the night of the hanging
the night you hear me
blood shadows are spilled by the moon
to smoke and burn in icy fire.
Ice candles drip near houses.
A distant dog is eating time.
What empties now goes in the moon.
the world adjusts
and snow flings blood-lace like maple sugar across the snow.
Snow drifts my hair
my lips my eyebrows.
This is where I go when they hang me.
This is where I land
when the rope swings me like a pale pumpkin above the world.
My words are
on your tongue
as gentle as
hot as iron
of a hatch.
eye holds reflections of fallen pumpkins
the sun rises inside my open eyes
and warms the lids and they close.
field once empty
has at its center forgotten
long wet hay
bundled by the snow
I am emptied by the morning
a drift beside the pumpkins.
into your rope-bursting
and I now live
inside the salt
upon your cheeks.
am small drops of water
steaming salt into the snow.
I am the spaces in snow
soft as a doily held
between the eyes
and the eye sight of
the first spring light.