because we don't burn witches anymore
by JOHN SIBLEY WILLIAMS
It’s not shotgunning these lines of
empty bottles into sharp little stars
but how quickly we drank them
that awakens the courage. The doubt.
Upwind from the politics of home
and that wet-dog stench of rain
baking into clay, the sky is ours now
to shatter. To forget. And remake.
And I’m no longer terrified
of what I’ll grow up into.
Not the faith but the gods in things, missing.
Not the blackbird sharpening its beak
on stone but what we call the sparks
when they don’t come. Sometimes
you can be too careful. Sometimes
you must try to spark all your own.
Not far from here they used to burn
women that failed to confess their guilt
or drown in their innocence. Nowadays
we marry them, and our parents sigh.
We have all been here before, lying
drunk in the bed of a pickup surrounded
by warm shells, briefly empowered, waiting
for the earth to change us for the better.