The Witch Of Steen
Just twelve, I swear, I must have been
by David Lewis Paget
The day they took the Witch of Steen
And put a halter round her neck
To teach her magic some respect.
The women in the village square
Tore off her clothes, and pulled her hair
Then called their menfolk out to view
Who crossed them there, what they would do.
They tied her hands behind her back
The rope around her neck was slack,
But tied to Jethro's stubborn mule
They led her naked, like some fool.
And all her secrets lay out there
Uncovered, in the open air,
She looked quite beautiful to me
Her naked form, such artistry.
The mule dragged her, painful and slow
Along the lanes where they would go
As gusts of breeze blew out her hair,
Revealed what she was hiding there.
And I, I followed, just a lad
Whose eyes were full of her, by god,
Whose breasts were pert and firm back then
Whose thighs held secrets, hid from men.
I saw that tiny tuft of hair
That hid her womanhood in there,
That plagued me since, for every night
I'd think of it in dread delight.
But still they led her, lane and field
No place that she was not revealed,
They took her to the ducking pond
Where life or death would lie beyond.
And when they laid the ducking stool
With her aboard, across the pool,
Her voice rang out, this buxom maid
With words the villagers dismayed.
‘For all that you come judging me,
Look to yourselves, your pedigree,
What sons and daughters sprang at night
From phantom fathers, bred in spite.'
‘When husbands were out tending fields
And wives would wait, temptation yields.
What shadows stood by window ledge
Gained entry to some marriage bed? '
The women quaked before her spell
And screamed, then ducked the witch to hell
And would have left her there to drown
Had not the menfolk brought her round.
In mercy then, they set her free
And she had screamed, ‘A curse on thee!
‘Your cattle will roam free and late
Your catch won't hold the cattle gate.'
‘Your crops will flatten in the fields
When hail and sleet destroy their yields,
And mud will fill your village hall,
Your church collapse, your roofs will fall.'
She left there with a final shout
The things she cursed, they came about,
But I was left a lifetime dream,
That naked witch, the Witch of Steen.
8 April 2016