Christina Hennemann

The Evolution of Florence Newton

c. 1596 – 1661

Your fear is chains slung

around my wrists, rammed

on this stumbling stool. 

Tie me tighter or I’ll toss

and turn against your faith,

your Lord laughs at your lulls. 

Heal me, this harrowing hag, 

I am not free of sin, my kiss

is toxic, for I loved women 

too much, and men too many. 

Awls grow out like thorn, 

chants scrape the haunting

wound around the tower,

and the snake that snuck 

around your hips in prayer

is no longer that snake.

You grasp me with your

grizzly paws, I slither out

of this skin, leave you

with an empty shell. 

I bled only at your sharpest

tongues; beggar, witch, 

spinster, my neck wriggles

out of your noose, shadows

lurk on the edge of the eye. 

Florence Newton was an Irish woman charged with being a “witch,” and later named the “Witch of Youghal,” who died during one of Ireland’s most prominent witch trials. Some of her trial records are missing, however, and her eventual cause of death remains unknown.

Christina Hennemann is based on the west coast of Ireland. She’s a recipient of the Irish Arts Council’s Agility Award ’23 and she was longlisted in the National Poetry Competition. Her work appears in Poetry Ireland, Poetry Wales, Skylight 47, The Moth, York Literary Review, The Storms, Impossible Archetype, Ink Sweat & Tears, Moria, and elsewhere.