Copyright © 1981 Erica Mann Jong
All rights reserved.
Used with permission from the poet.
For all those who died –
stripped naked, shaved, shorn.
For all those who screamed
in vain to the great Goddess
only to have their tongues
ripped out by the root.
For those who were pricked, racked, broken on the wheel
for the sins of their Inquisitors.
For all those whose beauty
stirred their torturers to fury;
& for those whose ugliness did the same.
For all those who were neither ugly nor beautiful,
but only women who would not submit.
For all those quick fingers
broken in the vise.
For all those soft arms
pulled from their sockets.
For all those budding breasts
ripped with hot pincers.
For all those midwives killed merely for the sin
of delivering man
to an imperfect world.
For all those witch-women, my sisters,
who breathed freer
as the flames took them,
knowing as they shed
their female bodies,
the seared flesh falling like fruit
in the flames,
that death alone would cleanse them
of the sin for which they died
the sin of being born a woman,
who is more than the sum
of her parts.
(My apologies to Ms. Jong, this dedication was in place on the website for so many years and I did in fact believe that it was anonymous. My gratitude for setting it straight, and for allowing me to continue to post it here.)