SPOTLIGHT: In Case I Live Forever by Emma McCoy

I Remember

every line of your face

I suppose one day Time
will take that away
in an act of benevolent

Occasionally, I Visit Museums

to look at paintings of myself

Occasionally, someone draws
a conclusion and I slip out
the back door

Picking Fights
(another civil war, Magadhan Dynasty, India, 430 BC)

I am not the hero today.
I fight for years, always the same
and I no longer tell what’s right.
Just another war, and I’m here.

I don’t bend Shiva’s bow for love
nor walk through fire. Can’t prove what
nobody believes anymore!
I wake up, a new day, and fight.

They know how to make good axes,
I cleave through the battlefield still
living, I am a goddess here—
I’m not a hero worth singing

about. So much death, not for me,
which wars could be worth fighting for?
So much time, all for me, I move
on often, fast as I can go.

I loved someone once, loved so much
I didn’t burn of love for him.
I remember well how he died,
somewhere deep within mountain ground.

(I just have so much useless time
and all I know is how to fight
and maybe once I was trying
to do something resembling good)

I fight wars, courting Fate and Death,
blending the reason until I
no longer think I’m the hero.
I don’t think he’d be proud of me.

The Parable of the Healer
(Jerusalem, 100 AD)

There once was a woman in a town, and she had certain gifts. Good health clung to her like a shroud and she had healer’s hands. The earth yielded secrets to her like she was one from the garden and no one in that town had died from disease in many years. One winter, a mother brought her son to this woman. He was sick with fever and by all rights should have died. The healer took him and brought him back healthy. The people started muttering, “this woman in unnatural” “she is not righteous” “her gifts are not holy.” That night, they dragged her from her home and beat her in the street. They left her there until morning.
When the sun rose, her neighbors walked past her prone body. They thought, “I’m glad it’s not me” “serves her right” “she isn’t human.” The mother came up to her, paused, and brought her home. She nursed the healer back to health the best she could. When the healer could walk, she packed her things and left. That winter, a plague swept half the town away. Now truly, truly I ask this of you: Who was more righteous, the fearful townspeople or the grateful mother?

Some Thoughts on Why I Hate America
(in the woods outside Salem, 1692)

Why can’t the preacher look me in the face?
Am I the devil, or some simple taste
Of hell on earth come creeping in a witch?
Am I good or evil? I know not which.
I choke on air abundant, rope around
My neck, feet kicking nothing. Tragic sound
Rings loud— I might have died some fifteen times
But none would ever stick. That love of mine
Lies bare upon the ground as they drag her
Up, my Nina, that healer, they stab her
To my hanging post, pinned to my greatest
Shame. She spoke like me, loved me hard, and yet
She died there on my cross. I’m not a witch
And I know my gift, no bargain or rich-
Es I traded. I choke on air, my shame,
For I, blinded, let her die in my name.
So close, so close! What a fool I have been
To think she was more than magic. Ruin
Heaped on pride—- the cold of reality,
The harsh limits of what a witch could be.
The witch and the immortal! Woman loved,
Not devil-made, or turned, but heaven’s dove
In all her gentleness. I wish more time,
Less violent end, oh sweet lover of mine.
Yet I lie burning, hanging, swinging from
Your tombstone these seven weeks, thinking of
Escape, not allowed to die. Puritan
Thought wants to purify me, not certain
Of my true nature. I thought, yes I thought,
She could be like me and now it has wrought
More heaping pain I can’t seem to regret.
I claim no neck-scars nor shiny burns, yet
The loss notches my bones, yes in my heart-
Bones. Of me it will always be a part.


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