Sally Warrell p.1

Sally Warrell

Becoming Mother

The Witchfinder General


Becoming Mother
A young person old age has happened to,
You come towards me with uncertain gait,
And always I see your mother in you;
The mother you hoped not to emulate.
Yet like your mother you'll stay up till three
To complete a task that could be made wait.
"You're not a finisher," you say of me.
I'm someone else another size and shape;
A taller woman of a different hue,
Who has sewed a seam but chooses now instead
To make no cakes nor any Irish stew,
But cook with words, with poets break my bread.
Me to you, I'm the apple to your pear:
I can never be you and so forbear.

Copyright © 2013 Sally Warrell
Becoming Mother read by Sally Warrell

In August 1645, two hundred witches were tried at Bury St Edmunds: 124 presented to the court by Matthew Hopkins.  It has been suggested in a number of books that 68 of these were hanged, though this is probably a bit of an exaggeration.  (From Witches in and around Suffolk, by Pip and Joy Wright 2004)

The Witchfinder General
If she’s lighter than the bible,
if she be wise beyond your ken,
and if her imp can find lost things;
swim her then.

If she the future can divine,
if she has herbs to cool your brow,
and if her look blight you or yours;
swim her now.

If holy water spit her out
and she stand then upon dry land;
prevail on her till she confess.
She will hang.

Copyright © 2014 Sally Warrell
The Witchfinder General read by Sally Warrell
At each day’s end there’s a crowd of starlings
in our sky,  ribboned across the fading light.
We watch the dance, as they fling outwards,
never losing touch, then gather in a peak
of darkness, again and again, as if held
by an invisible force.  We are captivated.

In church we mumble our responses,
a little out of sync with each other,
creating a continuous babble of sound.
As we try to pray our thoughts
scatter and regroup, fly heavenward
or contract in a nub of concentration.

The audience waiting for the play
to start, raise their voices in a hubbub
of anticipation, rustle sweet wrappers
and flip through their programs,
chatter about this and that right up
until the lights dim and the curtain rises.

Copyright © 2015 Sally Warrell
Murmuration read by Sally Warrell


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