Jailers jingle keys and coins in their pockets
as she walks through the corridor of a grey
morning. Dew cold-softens the rungs
of the ladder and her toes curl to grip
each bar as – steadily – she rises up
a creaking platform built by sturdy men.
The rope around her neck is rough-woven,
each scratch beckoning her from her soft hide,
pulling down through the pap of a secret
inside. As her lungs wheeze, her throat slowly
closes – her daughter is too slight to break
her neck and swings bootless from rope-jerked feet.
This is her last dance. Every step taken
by cunning women leads to the gallows.
Zoe Mitchell lives and works on the South Coast. She has been published in a number of national poetry magazines including The Rialto, The London Magazine and The Moth. She is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, focused on witches in women’s writing. She recently won the Indigo-First Collection Competition and her first poetry collection will be published by Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2019. www.twitter.com/WritingByZoe