Of Fire and Brimstone,
of Faith and Belief
A peasant girl had a way with herbs,
a healer of intuitive vision,
so maligned by pious kind was duly branded witch,
and tested she in the waters of a lake:
if drowned God’s will, if not the demon’s gift,
then fire to cleanse this human ache,
this devil in earth-born skin.
Her mother pleaded mercy,
from the priest and Abbot both,
all of fifteen years this girl was a gift from God,
no demon or of any other ilk,
but the arrogance was met with disdain,
and in two days this young maiden
would meet the flame, and perish.
She sat forlorn in a dank dark cell,
rusty chains her tether, bound,
for the love and caring she did share,
to help the ill and those without hope resound,
and now she without it herself,
was as her ailing recipients,
without a hand.
She peered through the high cell window,
light like a single shard of purity,
and asked why she, in her heart-filled giving,
could find heinous death just for living,
but no answer came, no God or friend replied,
and her facing death a sole task too morbid to imbibe,
so she cried, desperate for any sign,
or miracle from the divine.
Outside the pyre was built,
a stake and many faggots to hold the flames aloft,
and a platform to stand upon,
to face her death with some kind of acceptance,
for nothing she did wrong;
yet time was slipping away and no-one could see her,
offer solace or religious comfort,
just impending agony and death.
She wondered how this could happen,
what had she done through love to invite such hatred,
and sorrow and pity filled her mind,
as her aching heart awaited reason,
and then in her deepest darkest despair,
an angel appeared, as white and pure as precious light,
and placed her hand upon the girls head,
to acknowledge her dark and unjust plight.
The girl looked up and saw in that angels eyes,
such solace and love to wipe her fears away,
and the next morning at dawn,
she was lead to her final moments,
tied to the stake as the Abbot read a passage;
she, looked into the heavens, calm but mystified,
as a nave did torch the wood,
and she awaiting the pain that would carry her to heaven.
Yet as the smoke rose
and flames licked at the faggots and makeshift stand,
not one flame touched her pale flesh,
no scream of pain, no burning marked her time,
and she looked upon the Abbot, and smiled,
God himself has chosen this miracle,
to show how you are blind, she said,
and the ropes that bound fell away,
and she stepped down from her pyre.
The people dropped to their knees,
unbelieving this miracle,
no demon child but God himself had saved his ward,
and they mere peasants believed her words,
and she was freed by church and people alike
from mortal death, her path a more religious plight
to heal in God’s name,
for love’s sweet sake.
That girl many times questioned that day,
the angel, the miracle and her worth in life,
and knew only that when she accepted her end,
in calm and unresisting recognition,
then and only then, could there be change,
a better way to live,
a passage that even death may not abide.
Tony DeLorger © 2017