A Modern Maid

Joan of Arc works at the Gap.
Her armor, nearly invisible under
the florescent light, catches on the sweaters
she folds, so that cashmere threads
follow her everywhere, a crimson cape.

She can’t remember how she got here:
most days, can’t remember her name when she gets up,
but knows where her keys are,
and what bus to take to work.

God speaks to her sideways,
flickering reflections in the
napkin dispenser at the diner,
upside down when she licks
the ice cream clean from her spoon.

Joan sees pinions behind her when she uses the ATM.
There’s angels, mostly angry and scary,
often white, and always in her dreams.
They smell like straw and milk...

Joan is sixteen. She’s always sixteen.
She’s so blond her eyebrows disappear.
She has freckles and is serious,
chews off her lipstick.
She’ll heal you if you ask nice,
and go back behind the chinos with her.
Her name means 'God is gracious.'
Sometimes when she’s stacking the perfume
called heaven
she remembers this is true.

by Christine Hamm

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