I have indeed set myself to countermine the whole plot of
the Devil against New England, in every Branch of it, as
far as one of my Darkness can comprehend such a Work
—Cotton Mather, Wonders of the Invisible World
Each word weighted my mouth, my voice
lodged in my throat like a stone.
A stammerer, my father said, may the Lord untie his tongue.
Each syllable dragged out on a rope,
sentence by slow sentence, a diary entry:
today another SECRET fast and alone
in my room I begged to reach God, prayed not
to be SPEECHLESS. For a week in bed
I waited for a sign. Each night
I swore to use my tongue as the Lord’s
and not my own. And so he brought the trials.
Each word became a body hung at the neck,
branch snapped off a tree. Five witches
were lately executed impudently demanding
of God a Miraculous Vindication of their Innocency.
Now the Devil has joined the Visible World.
Now God’s Book is shut, his Covenant broken.
Now my voice is a fist that splits the sky.