Friday Poem – Page 35 from ‘Witch’ by Damian Walford Davies

This week’s Friday Poem is taken from Witch by Damian Walford Davies. This continuous narrative poem conjures a thrilling portrait of a Suffolk village in the throes of the witchcraft hunts of the mid-seventeenth century.

This cover shows a red sketchy print of a monkey sitting on a table beside a lamp. The text reads: Damian Walford Davies Witch.

With the narrative pull of a novel and the vibrancy of a play for voices, the poems in this collection are dark spells, compact and moving: seven sections, each of seven poems, each of seven couplets, are delivered by those most closely involved in the ‘making’ of a witch. The speakers authentically conjure a war-torn society in which religious paranoia amplifies local grievances to fever pitch. Damian Walford Davies’s Witch is a damning parable that chimes with the terror and anxieties of our own haunted age.

We were eeling in the fingers
of the creek, drawing knots
of muscle from the rushwork
creels, a silty tidemark just
above the knees. We watched
him loll along the boards,
lank sprays of loosestrife
in his hands. Clem dropped
her trussed skirt on the tide,
two eels flailing round
her wrists, quickening water
lapping at our legs. He saw us,
held his poor posy out. Love!
he said. I couldn’t say to which.

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