by Mariele Fluegeman
Left Panel: Joan of Arc Binds her Breasts
The visions started in the cup of tea
her mother brewed the night the bloodied tides
first visited her body. Herbs swirled in
and out of focus, whispered names of those
long dead and long unborn and drowned out cries
of womanhood with those of Prophet.
she cloaked herself in saints created in
her image and forged armor out of their
Fire will come for her, she knows,
like that inevitable pull of moon
across the earth, and she will fortify
herself for pitchfork tines and gas perfume,
to choreograph the flames across her breasts,
the smoke signals she’ll launch into the sky.
Tomorrow I will try to worship you
and you will chew the prayers from my tongue,
spit chunks of garbled blood back in my face.
Entwine your hand in mine and we’ll prepare
a sacrifice for saints who breathe outside
locked libraries of history and skirt
forgetting. Let us eat the snake that lurks
among the pomegranate trees and free
our bodies from this hirsute prison. All
the honey in the world cannot dislodge
the locusts from our guts tonight. They sing
at frequencies the radio ignores
but their vibrations pin us up against
your constellation prizes in the stars.
Right Panel: Rose of Lima in Flower Crown
The pus oozed from the puncture wounds that blessed
the hidden thorns inside the crown of roses.
Their holy orders left no elbowroom
for beauty. Sainthood is the girl who nails
each thorn into her own scalp to atone
for her attractiveness. Jesus destroyed
the temple’s marketplace for less, so she
rebels against the corporation of
her genes. The faith was never beautiful.
It burns beneath her irritated skin,
the fiery virus gone untreated far
too long to cure with balms of Gilead,
a laying on of hands, some incensed high
with strange trumpets arising in the smoke.