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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 2, June 2017
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Tim Gardiner
Manningtree, Essex, United Kingdom


Elizabeth

A curlew's cry resounds across the mudflats as the sun sinks over Seafield Bay's grey wastes. Meanwhile, a woman hurries along the footpath towards Stutton Mill. Something about that building unnerves; its stark windows seem to drain all colour from the fa├žade. There is no evidence of movement inside.

crumbling clay
of the old seawall . . .
some distance
from the shore
a godwit preens

When reaching the sanctuary of the Mill, she disappears through the front door. No candles are lit, despite the advancing evening, and the windows emit no homey warmth. A piece of black cloth torn on a rose thorn flaps in the estuarine wind; the curlew cries once more.

still hanging,
a parched pea-gall
on arching dog rose . . .
he reaps the rewards
of a hollow heart

Watching from the hill, the witch-finder waits for darkness to conceal his intentions. Advancing silently, he descends upon the Mill. Under mist-sullied moonlight, his shadow slips inside; the curlew cries for the last time.

limpets cling
to a boat sunk deep
in samphire . . .
no hiding place
from the curlew's beak


Author's Note: The source of the author's inspiration came from the witch-finder general Matthew Hopkins (c. 1620-1647), who lived in Manningtree (Essex, England) during the English Civil War. He was responsible for the death of Elizabeth Clarke, the first of about 300 women to be prosecuted and hanged for witchcraft by him. Hopkins and his colleague John Stearne were paid handsomely for their work. It is said that Elizabeth's ghost can be seen walking the shore of Seafield Bay.

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