Log Cabin Chronicles

The Honesty of Joan's Skin

WARD KELLEY

From my stone cell I can see
the pyre they have meticulously
stacked for my body tomorrow . . .
and I have taken some odd joy
in the seriousness of their placement
with these sticks and branches . . .
I can't decide if there is a respect for me
in this, or if they simply fear my power
over any imperfection.

What is not cured in me,
what I have never been able
to bring to a perfect point,
is a forgiveness for those
who have abandoned me . . .
and every time I think to forgive,
I choke on the prayer, and feel only
a greater sorrow for my body and myself.

There has been so much injustice
leveled against the honesty of my skin.

Yet there is only one way out of iniquity,
and that is to find the right heart . . .
the only way to forge a path out
of persecution is to apply the right
prayers of forgiveness to those
who seek to harm.

Surely I will burn tomorrow;
truly I will die; it is sure and true yet
I do not have faith in my strength
to find a way to forgive
in the center of the flames.

[Auhor's Note:Joan of Arc (1412-1431) earned, in the words of Louis Kossuth, an imposing distinction: since the writing of human history began, she is the only person, of either sex, who has ever held supreme command of the military forces of a nation at the age of seventeen. Although she achieved many victories for her beloved Dauphin, by age nineteen she had been tried for heresy then burned at he stake.]


a poem about Emilty Dickinson


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