My ancestor
Sarah Cloyce
Crouched in her jail cell
Remembering her sisters.
Rebecca. Hung.
Mary. Drowned.
She herself faced drowning
And wondered how it was when
Mary’s lungs filled with water
The air squeezed out
Bubbles rising to the surface.

She did not care for herself
But her sisters’ children
And grandchildren
Had only her left
Of the elders.
Her own children
And grandchildren
This gaggle of cousins
Descended from
Three infamous witches—
How would they fare?
Would her nieces
Her daughters
Be picked off one
By one
As she, Rebecca, Mary had been?

She did not expect the jailer’s approach
In the middle of the night.
She did not understand
Her release into her husband’s arms
And onto the floor of a wagon
Under coats
And bales of hay
An overnight trip to Framingham.

They lived in a cave
Or rather two caves
One for sleeping, hidden,
The other, less hidden,
For keeping watch.
Her grown son brought
Messages for weeks
Of no change
Until suddenly it was over.

They built a house
In Framingham
That still stands today
Wings and additions
Lopped on over three centuries.
The core of the house
Holds the wide mouth
Of an enormous cookstove built
For heat and for cooking
Not women
No witches.

Sarah was no witch
Nor Rebecca
Nor Mary
Just women
Accused scorned
Swept up
In a tide of distrust
And a need for blame.

There is a plaque on the wall
Telling Sarah’s story
And Rebecca’s and Mary’s.
I am descended from the one
Who survived.
It is tempting to be proud
Of her, of that.
But it was just
A crafty husband
A bribable jailer
Hard lessons from Rebecca and Mary.
And luck.

About aliceinbloggingland

I am starting a blog in order to establish a regular writing habit, with readers. Enjoy!
This entry was posted in creative nonfiction, parenting, poetry, politics, Uncategorized, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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