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A StartlementTo Ward Kelley's previous piece

The Starting Gun for Joan

They question your capability to lie,
as though this isn't a common, human inclination,
for we were all born into a lie . . .
were we not?

Not that very many really cry about this,
but the real mark of commonality
always has been the ability
to absorb the lie
then find someone to forgive . . .
maybe you found too many of us.

Fire can separate lies from truth,
but did it also fuel your absolution?
You hinted there comes a threshold
where searing pain twists
into ecstasy,
while you crash through the runner's wall
into a cool sea of forgiveness
that only saints can discover
then show us.

Your face holds the fire . . .
your tears drop balm
and agony,
yet you forgive and cajole
us poor humans

Joan of Arc (1412-1431) earned, in the words of Louis Kossuth, an imposing distinction: since the writing of human history began, she is the only person, of either sex, who has ever held supreme command of the military forces of a nation at the age of seventeen. Although she achieved many victories for her beloved Dauphin, by age nineteen she had been tried for heresy, then burned at the stake. She was also the only person ever canonized as a saint of the Catholic church who had once been executed as a heretic by the very same church.

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