Salem 1692

The spells come
while kneading rye bread,
pushing the ocean waves back.

With praying hands to Saint Anthony,
tongues of flame wash through my limbs.
Everything burns pink in another wet winter.

And God separates the chaff from wheat.

Some wenches hung last week
kicking their shoes off
like the Black Death.

One, my midwife, who delivered
all my babes. Without her,
I birthed alone: three moons too early.

They counted this upon their fingers
then, they discovered the devil’s
mark upon my child: three knots in the rope.

When I am dancing,
someone bangs on my door.
I offer warm bread—

It is God in the midwife’s boots.


Read Alexandra Isacson’s short story, “Matchmaker’s Ashes,” at the Wilderness House Literary Review 4.2.