Two Contemporary Poets

Spring, 2004

Ioanna Warwick

Saint Joan Speaks To Me

I'm walking down the cobbled
streets of Rouen. Cabbage leaves
blacken in the gutters.
In the square they are burning
Joan of Arc.
Her eyes are transparent with light.
In halo of fire she says,
Truth is a torch,
but it makes a beautiful blaze.

A boy leans too near. She cries,
"Watch out, you'll burn yourself."
A soldier shouts:
"A witch would not talk like that!"
The crowd is weeping.
Through veils of flame she says,
A dead body
is only a dead body.

How can we tell her from smoke
unless we too rise,
a blue heron slanting into flight,
that pulse of wingbeat so slow,
so soaring when she says,
We are all burning.
Be the brightest fire.