Upon the common the villagers gathered,
having sense to know what needed to be done,
and so, being obedient as a well-trained herd,
they complacently waited to see a bit of fun.
While the grim guards marched the widow out
she wept, her head hanging limp and low,
and the crowd gave a triumphant shout—
for they knew all they needed to know.
The guards walked her to the standing stake
in the center of the jumbled wood pile,
and the children laughed in her wake,
taunting her stupidity all the while.
They tied her tightly to that vertical plank
so, try as she might, the cords would not budge,
and there stepped forth a man of imminent rank
within that community: the wigged Judge.
“Goodie Blanford,” he said, “by your peers you have been tried
for the crime of practicing witchcraft
and have been found guilty.” He then stepped aside,
motioning a guard for his oil-wrapped shaft.
“I just gave the sick boy some lemongrass!”
the wretched widow cried. “Only herbal tea
to help his lungs so the Autumn flu would pass.
He would be dead right now if not for me!”
The Judge took the torch, struck it alight,
and lit the sticks at her bleeding feet;
the complacent flock leaned into the sight
as if eager for a delightful treat.
The whole village watched the hungry flames
as if mesmerized by their lurid glow,
and the widow called out each by their names,
begging them to pardon her, let her go.
But she was a witch, this much they knew to be true,
and for that she had to pay a truly mortal penance
as even their young children in attendance knew—
it was, after all, only Common Sense.