Joan of Arc in Her Prison

Thérèse of Lisieux once played the part of Joan of Arc in a “pious recreation” she wrote for her Carmelite community.

It’s spring, 1895. Thérèse
in the role of Joan, is chained


to the sacristy courtyard’s
high brick wall. There is no sky.

She is dressed for the part—
full gown marked with fleurs-

de-lis; her long hair flows
—though not in fact her own—

her wrists are shackled,
her head’s in her hand.

Thérèse-as-Joan imprisoned,
awaiting her final trial,

her costume flammable,
her heart even more so;

every prayer is so much straw
strewn on the hardened earth.

The camera’s grace holds her
to this icon of her mission

(the story-arc she’ll follow to the end,
the act of love she’s written);

sunlight gleams on the water jar 
and the brief lines by her side.

her costume flammable, / her heart even more so;

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