Arms tied to the wooden cross,
chin slumped against his tattered coat.
Withered from the waist down,
a fool in the stocks.
Crows perch on his shoulders,
knock rhythms into his hollow head.
He would shout at them
if he had a voice.
The farmer's daughter wraps a pink scarf
around his neck, places a striped carnation
in his belt, and calls her father
to place gloves on his stiff hands.
A noose is tied around his chest
to haul him onto the farmer's back;
the open gate four feet away
when his cross is driven back into the ground.
Surrounding him are logs piled high,
straw stuffed in the gaps.
The farmer strikes a match
as gunpowder stars fill the darkening sky,
the Fifth of November
echoes around the flames.