“Pilgrimage” – Poetry by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

Joan of Arc's Death at the Stake - Hermann Stilke, 1843
Joan of Arc’s Death at the Stake – Hermann Stilke, 1843

“Pilgrimage” is the fourth of Jennifer MacBain-Stephens‘ poems on Joan of Arc featured in our Winter 2015 issue.

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LIPS TO SAINT JOAN’S EARS,
brown hoods cup water
in their tiny hands,
scavenging for bits of bone in the Seine.

A blacksmith remembers her:
Fragile and lemur-like,
raked over the coals
three times to
wring the witch out.

Psalm pages hang in the branches
Of the weeping willows,
heavy with the softness of girl’s skin.
Branches miss their little doll
with high cheek bones.

Like Cinderella’s birds
Who knew too much
clothing scraps are woven into
nests for remembrance near
the family farm in Dom Remy.

The proverbial sword struck
down the tiniest shape;
everyone wants to harm little girls.
Crowns not up to contemplating
the cosmos, acquiesce throughout eternity.

The healing is measured.
Firstonebreath.
Thenasecond.
Then a year has gone by.
Measured by guest book signatures.

Creeping in from forests,
forms conjoin to assemble
one gargantuan black robed priest.
The townspeople sweep,
chant, light candles,

cradle pieces of warmth,
this one I will protect, that one, lost.

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AuthorphotoJENNIFER MacBAIN-STEPHENS is the author of three chapbooks: Every Her Dies   (ELJ Publications), Clotheshorse (Finishing Line Press, forthcoming, 2014), and Backyard Poems (Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming, 2015). Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net, and has appeared in public places in Iowa City. Recent work can be seen / is forthcoming at Dressing Room Poetry Journal, The Blue Hour, The Golden Walkman, Split Rock Review, Toad Suck Review, Red Savina Review, The Poetry Storehouse, and Hobart. For a complete list of publications and other odds and ends, visitJenniferMacBainStephens.wordpress.com 

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