Joan Of Arc

Poem By Ali Alizadeh


She and the fire
fight adjectives. Their concreteness

deflects reification
by language. She simply is

a pronoun. It may signify
say, my wife (coming from me

'she' often does) or, yes
a medieval French woman, her being

so roughly abridged
by the pronoun, as brutally fed

to the fire. Regarding the fire
dazzling, heaving, devouring

won't do. It only suggests
a familiar occurrence: ouch

when flame touches skin. Indeed
flame doesn't suffice (rhymes with lame)

and a pyre, much more poetic,
based on the transcripts based on

wordy statements. So much
reliance on the makeshift engine

of abstraction, language. She
did, I think, end in fire, but hero

saint, witch, schizophrenic
won't do. Will numbers rectify

the flaws of alphabetical signs: 1412
to 1431? Historians can't be certain

about either: no records
other than her reserved guess

on the first day of trial
apropos birth, and her famed death

also contested by theorists
of bad conspiracies. So I can't

force the ephemeral stuff
of her matter into a mould (a poem)

with description, facts
or even an attempted evocation. She

floats and evades
perhaps - if I may hazard a simile -

like her ashes, diffused
by an English guard over the Seine.

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