800

       for Archaeologist Alfonso Forgione

It’s a very unusual discovery
& at the same time fascinating.

I have never seen anything like this before.

I’m convinced
because of the nails
found in the jaw
& around the skeleton
the woman was a witch.

She was buried in bare earth,
not in a coffin
& she had no shroud
around her either.
Intriguingly, other nails
were hammered around her
to pin down her clothes.
This indicates to me
that it was an attempt
to make sure the woman
even though she was dead
did not rise from the dead
& unnerve the locals
who were no doubt convinced
she was a witch with evil powers.

The second skeleton we have found
was buried in a similar fashion
but this time we found
17 dice around her.
17 is an unlucky number in Italy
& also dice was a game
that women were forbidden to play.

The way the bodies were buried
would seem to indicate
some form of exorcist ritual
& the remains will be examined
to see if we can establish
a cause of death for them.

The only possible explanation
is that perhaps both women
came from influential families
& were not peasant class
& so because of their class
& connections
were able to secure burial
in consecrated Christian ground.

Christopher Higgs lives in Florida, where he curates Bright Stupid Confetti. He authored The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney (Sator Press) and assembled ONE (Roof Books), a collaboration with Blake Butler and Vanessa Place.

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