For All Those Who Died

‘For all those who died –

stripped, naked, shaved, shorn.

For all those who screamed

in vain to the Great Goddess

only to have their tongues

ripped out by the root.

For all those who were, pricked, racked, broken on the wheel

for the sins of their Inquisitors.

For all those whose beauty

stirred their torturers to fury;

& for all those whose ugliness did the same.

For all those who were neither ugly nor beautiful,

but only women who would not submit.

For all those quick fingers

broken in the vice.

For all those soft arms

pulled from their sockets.

For all those budding breasts

ripped with hot pincers.

For all those midwives killed merely for the sin

of delivering man

to an imperfect world.

For all those witch-women,

my sisters,

who breathed freer

as the flames took them,

Knowing as they shed

their female bodies,

the sacred flesh falling like fruit

in the flames,

That death alone would cleanse them

of the sin for which they died

The sin of being born a woman,

who is more that the sum

of her parts.’

By Erica Jong

Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (1999)
hardcover; 0-8109-8157-2
176 pages; color illustrations

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