Tears rise in the corners of her widened eyes,
as her lips curl around the dirty cloth–
tied so tightly her cheeks are beginning to swell.
The executioner lights the end of his torch
from the tips of those in the crowd —
so eager to assist when justice is being served —
and then holds it steady between the logs,
dry and thick, chosen specifically to burn
as long as possible, at her feet.
The crowd moves as one,
a mass of angry starlings
hungry for retribution,
their cries bleeding together
in vicious condemnation:
“Burn the witch!”
Better to kill her in solidarity
than let her live in opposition
to their beliefs.
But there is a judge.
And always…a glorious death–
focus for their shared hatred,
they rally–finding fleeting community
in someone else’s pain.
Indictments will spread –
and the only sure path to absolution
will be to name another
(because they are greedy for more):
“She made me do it…
she’s the witch!
Hang the bitch!”
Just like that –
blame will set the accused free.
Unwillingness to play their game
will infuriate them even more –
sure evidence of guilt.
Flames bite the edge of her dress,
flashing, large and intense,
and the bloodthirsty collective leans back, as one,
mouths open to the suddenness,
horrible smiles wide and deep,
already bored and looking for their next target.