Saturday, May 24, 2014


"Inexperience can be overcome, ignorance can be enlightened, 
but prejudice will destroy you."  Mercedes Lackey, "The Black Gryphon"

I shouldn't have looked back
upon the inlet, solemn church,
historic homes of contaminated,
over-ripe minds

smug in their righteousness.

Even after three-hundred years
Witchduck creek still bleeds,
still feeds this little town.
The only difference is they'd prefer

a sorceress to the "likes' of me.

by Margaret Bednar, May 24, 2014

This is linked to "Imaginary Garden with Real Toads - Play it Again, Toads".  I am resurrecting "Fireblossom Friday - Loss".

This is a poem pondering how people seem to always hate what is different, or more to the point, what they don't understand.  Our prejudices may have changed, but that evil vice is still alive and well.

This painting by my daughter reminds me of many historic towns in Virginia.   In the 1700's, Virginia Beach area farmers found themselves in the midst of various unfortunate events - cotton fields were wastelands and the cows had dried up.  Not to mention an excessive amount of men were being unfaithful.

Grace Sherwood's familiarity with herbs and her pretty looks were a bad combination and they deduced she must be a "witch".  She was sentenced to a "ducking".   Her thumbs were tied to her big toes and she was ducked into the Lynnhaven River on July 10, 1706.  Grace Sherwood freed herself from her ties and swam to shore in an effort to save her life.  The town concluded an innocent person would have sunk and died.    Grace Sherwood was found guilty and spent several years in jail.  When she was released, she lived out her days with her three sons on Pungo farm.  She died at the age of 80 in 1740.


Björn Rudberg said...

The witch hunts - such a black spot in our history.. We still find new ways of condemning neighbors but are using other methods than ducking for punishment.

Kerry O'Connor said...

I always love your historical themes, Margaret. What makes this so immediate is that the speaker is looking back on past prejudices and comparing them to those of the present, where another reason has been found to ostracize him/her from society. This seems to be a quirk of our natures that is never quite overcome. Chelsea's painting comes alive through your words.

Sumana Roy said...

Still miles to go to rise above prejudices...nice lines..

Grace said...

The historical background gave your words depth Margaret ~ It still boggles my mind how we can condemn someone to burn or drown because of their nature's gifts ~ Enjoyed this one ~

TexWisGirl said...

what a piece of history...

Fireblossom said...

Got to love the pretzel logic of "if she was innocent, she'd have sunk and drowned." Today, they'd be politicians or preachers handing out the very same doubletalk to a herd of followers.

Charleen said...

I'm glad she was able to escape from her drowning and that they didn't try killing her again.

Anonymous said...

Loved the history lesson you incorporated at the end.

Your poem, and language, quickly grabbed my attention and held it throughout --- a topic I enjoy reading about.

"Over-ripe minds" can be dangerous.

The last four lines are my favorites. I like the double meaning in "likes" at the end. It makes me think you're internalizing her story, that you feel like people would rather make you out to be evil than enjoy a genuine friendship with you --- perhaps there's even a Facebook incident this makes you think of.

hedgewitch said...

Some things never change--hate and fear seem to be as much in our dna as love, and tolerance seems often to be something the mind imposes over its dark side, sometimes only with great effort. This is short, but gives a full picture, and a strong complete lesson in who we are but do not have to be.

Jim said...

Shades of what I remember in "Scarlet Letter" in your explanation. The poem said to me that a witch would be an acceptable novelty to these better than thou snobby people.
Your kids are sooo talented, Margaret. Your daughter did very well here.

Anonymous said...

'there is nothing new under the sun'

perhaps, one day, what will be new is people treating other people well ~

Stacy Lynn said...

love the little historical twist to your poem.

also really enjoy the honest portrayal of prejudice.

nicely written!!

stacy lynn mar

Helen said...

You combined poetry and history beautifully! I couldn't find time to sit and compose a poem but wanted to say I love Chelsea's art! I would love to use one of her drawings in the future ~~ will be certain to credit her!