1692: Salem



Evil is growing here. It is in the soil, where our fields lie fallow. Is this the barrenness of harvest or pestilence? Village and town are plunged into darkness, no light remains. But what lives in the shadows? Demons surround us, and the devil gains more converts every day. Even the households of ministers are afflicted. We are torn apart. Undone.

Yet it’s our duty to fight the darkness and expel the evil that lurks here. It is our duty–we the justices–to send the witches to death. This affliction has spread through the region; so many blackened with devils’ marks, though they bleed red as anyone (their master teaches them tricks).

They will suffer the justice of righteousness, crushed by rocks or hanged by a rope, until they die, and we are saved.

But at night I wonder—what if we’re wrong?


For dVerse, Prosery #5. Prosery is prose using a line from a poem. Björn has asked us to use the line: “This is the barrenness of harvest or pestilence,” from a poem by Louise Glück. The word limit is 144 words. I rewrote part of an old poem, and I turned the given prompt line into a question.


32 thoughts on “1692: Salem

  1. Always a profound question … maybe I’m wrong? CG Jung said something along the lines of ‘beware the man who knows he’s right’ … thanks Merril, eerie indeed, as there is is actually too much around that is dark –

  2. Interesting how conscience does make you wonder if anyone possibly thought they were “wrong.” I saw “The Crucible” performed with high school students on this past Saturday. There was the argument in the justice hall that the young girls dancing may not have been calling on other worldly beings. I liked that the program reminded us that this was written during McCarthyism period by Arthur Miller. Another kind of “witch hunt…!” (It was 3 hours long) Skyler was up in the sound + light room, behind the scenes. He’s caught his mother’s and my interest in theatre! Yay!

    • Hi Robin! Yes, The Crucible is a fascinating play that uses the Salem trial to also explore the McCarthy era “witch hunts” going on. How nice that Skyler’s school took on the challenge, he participated, and you supported the endeavor. There was so much going on in Salem (and surrounding areas) at this time–and it all sort of boiled over into this mass hysteria. Some of the people actually did later admit they were wrong and apologized, and the General Court years later pardoned the accused.

  3. Not too long ago I listened to The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent. Chilling. Your poetic prose reminds me of the tension in the story, the willingness of people to lie and create fantastic stories (hysteria) out of malice, with a few wondering about their own souls if they were wrong. Well done, Merril 😉

  4. Yesterday and today. We can only pray that people wonder in the middle of the night “what if we’re wrong” and decide with their heart/soul, not their ego. Too many times, the ego wins. Living near Salem MA (by 40 minutes) I just shake my head as I see that city inundated with thousands – THOUSANDS – of costumed adults “celebrating” Halloween. There is so much in that place to not celebrate.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful response, Pam. Yes, you are so right, though I know people are not truly celebrating the history, but just a commercialization of Halloween tied to it. (I think.) The actual history is so complex and fascinating, and of course the witch scare went far beyond Salem. I was only in Salem once, when we went to a wedding in a nearby area, but we didn’t have a chance to go to Salem Village.

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