Saturday, 25 May 2013


“There were neither witches nor bewitched until they were talked and written about. [Better is] silence and discretion.” – Salazar, lawyer & objector to 17th century witch-trials.

In an enlightened Ireland, colonised no more
by England or Rome or anywhere,
nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Nonetheless, here it is, like the triumvirate
of headmaster, priest and guard who once
governed intimate relations in the villages.

Ideologues lobby and bullies jockey;
careerists territorialising biological turf,
comically aped by their cosseted wags.

They rail, apoplectic, and insist on the charge
that the gravid female can feign suicidal ideation,
as if in fear that there be witches here.

They’d make her swim to test her guilt, if they could.
Instead, if her mood lifts too much post-partum, they’ll nail her
with a sentence heavier than any laid on a serial killer.

If, perilously inseminated, she’s any sense, she’ll choose
the water terminus by boat or plane herself over long-term
dominion of a misogynistic, hypocritical and archaic system.

Otherwise she’ll be tried by a panel of three untouchables,
her evidence and confession extorted in exchange
for the indelible stamp of insanity on public record.

She’ll be stigmatised like the sacked midwives,
last refuge of conscientious women, before her;
both loath to inflict on ill-begotten unborn embryos

the perverse right to mean lives induced by
breeding-mongering cadres of mostly male gynae pros
bleeding the world and his groaning wife dry.

© Caroline Hurley

Maternity hospital masters differ over suicide provision in planned legislation

Jail term of up to 14 years for a woman who has an abortion in Ireland ‘bizarre’

Witch trials in the early modern period

Caroline's poems have previously appeared in Poetry24, as well as in The Electric Acorn, and in ESOF's 3nd Science Meets Poetry anthology. featured a chapter from her novel and some flash fiction. Her current focus is on young adult fiction and screenwriting. She lives near an Irish bird reserve.