Thursday, April 14, 2011

John and Sarah Bumpus, 1692

John and Sarah Bumpus, 1692
Lucille Lang Day

When the witch trials started up north
in Salem, Sarah was already heavy
with Jeremiah, their ninth child.
John thought back to when he was whipped
for idleness and flirtation as a young man
and shuddered, thinking how much
worse the allegation might have been.

Now even Governor Phips's wife
and shipmaster John Alden, son of John
and Priscilla, stood accused. Would
it never end? The Andover witches
all offered the same account: the devil
was a small black man who made them
renounce their baptism and sign his book.

Sarah hoped to God no witches would
ever be found in Plymouth. The baby
was due in August, the time to cut
wheat and rye. Had it been a mistake
for the Old Colony to join Massachusetts,
where the witches flew and cried? She
wondered, throwing corn to dappled swine.

John and Sarah Bumpus, 1692 was previously published in Blue Unicorn.


Lucille Lang Day is the author of eight poetry collections and chapbooks, most recently The Curvature of Blue (Cervena Barva, 2009). She has also published a children’s book, Chain Letter, and her memoir, Married at Fourteen, will appear from Heyday in 2012. Her poetry and prose have appeared widely in such magazines and anthologies as Atlanta Review, The Hudson ReviewThe Threepenny Review, and New Poets of the American West (Many Voices, 2010). She lives in Oakland, California, with her husband, writer Richard Levine. Her website is

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