Joan of Arc Gives Me a Buzzcut or Lux Venit in Nomine Vocis

Anna Westwig

Joan of Arc and I lay head-to-head
in the wash of a meadow frothing
Queen Anne’s lace like a corrupted lung.
Her fingers dabbling my palms
like water, that martyr and I speak
of our own voices: mine, stolen; hers
given like a sack of entrails. Did the voices
twitch, I ask, did they wriggle inside of you,
still attached to God’s nervous system?
Something in her savages at that. My phrases
are all borrowed things; I nestle a soul
beneath the frisket of a printing press.
No, she speaks in French (I translate to Latin
through my medulla), I saw saints in my garden.
Then: the sound of bees, their wings spun
by the edge of a flame. I tell her we’ve
invented new ways to burn by now:
gasoline, electricity, suburban oblivion.
If I take Asenapine will I be as holy as you?
She feigns interest and the hairs stippling
her scalp engulf me like a crow’s wing,
growing, unreal. Is this what a vision
feels like, I ask. She does not answer.
Can you cut my hair for me, I ask. I hand her
the razor, buzzing like a prophecy, my first
flammable question. My hair shifts and
weeps like goldenrod as the light comes through
in the name of the voice. It is cut with tenderness.
She is nineteen and a pillar of ash.
I am seventeen and begging to catch flame.

First published on Young Poets Network, The Poetry Society: