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

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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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