Support the writers and artists of O:JA&L and Buttonhook Press

Anne Myles

Anne Hutchinson Considers Her Examination at the Court at Newtown: A Gigan

Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1637

Untitled portrait by Ammi Phillips

When the house is on fire, you open the door.
How elsewise to account for what I told them,

casting aside my knife of ready argument
that sliced the snares they sought to catch me in?
I sensed how it would go, yet could no more

ply speech I’d mastered that was not my own.
What do we stand on, what truth can we confess?

Our journey, the story of it, its long unwinding;
how I yearned until the Lord said If you please

I shall open Scripture, and the ways of grace—
with my mind on fire he threw wide the door

in a voice of mastery that melded with my own.
In court that wind rushed in again, the flaring
up that must come out. And now they bind me,

she-monster mured by law. Yet in this place
theirs is the only house that I see burning.


About the writer:
Anne Myles is the author of What Woman That Was: Poems for Mary Dyer (Final Thursday Press). Her poems have appeared in On the Seawall, North American Review, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. She received her MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a four-time Pushcart nominee.

About Anne Hutchinson:
Anne Hutchinson was an American pioneer settler who came to Massachusetts in 1634 with her husband and eleven children. Eventually she disputed with and overtly challenged, for cause, the orthodoxy of the Puritan leadership of Massachusetts. Subsequently she was tried and convicted of heresy and sedition in 1637 and sentenced to excommunication and banishment to Rhode Island. After her husband died, she and her younger children relocated to New Amsterdam (later New York) where they took up residence in an outlying settlement. Soon after, Anne Hutchinson and six of her children were killed in an Indian raid.

About the Gigan form: The Gigan is a recently invented poetic form. Because it is named for a monster, the author chose it for this poem about a woman deemed “monstrous” by orthodox Puritan authorities.

Image: Untitled portrait by Ammi Phillips (1788-1865). Oil on canvas. 33.5 x 27.5 inches. Between circa 18848 & 1860. Public domain.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporationsupporting writers and artists worldwide.

Become an O:JA&L Member through Patreon.