(for Andrea Yates)
They pointed at her,
“Witch,” they said.
Sarah was not a witch,
did not know anything about witches,
but the people who had always known her
who knew what she looked like, where she lived,
knew that her name was ‘Sarah’
said Sarah was a “Witch”
though they knew nothing really, absolutely nothing,
about being a witch or what a witch was,
except that it was the right name for their fear,
and they knew nothing, absolutely nothing,
about what it was like being Sarah, the way nothing,
absolutely nothing, can be known
about being another from seeing another,
by saying ‘another,’ saying ‘Sarah,’
but those who had no idea what a witch was,
who could not by themselves have imagined
one single thing about a ‘witch’
nevertheless believed she was a witch,
measuring the circumference of her guilt
with the tape of their ignorance
and those who called her witch, (and so) made her ‘witch,’
the way God made light saying ‘Light,’
said she had to be put to death by fire.
They did it because they could not feel the fire
the way you cannot feel it when someone
else’s hand touches the hot fire.
Sarah is given a last glass of water before the fire is lit.
She puts the glass to her open mouth and swallows.
Of the water and of herself her mind can follow either no farther.
She does not know who she is, where she came from, or where she is going.
She does not know what the water is,
or what it does inside her body,
her body, which she knows, really,
nothing about either,
except that the water she is swallowing
will not put its fire out.
She knows that.