Poetry by Kristin Garth: Sacrificial Virgin
On the betrayal of Joan of Arc by King Charles VII. Listen to the author Kristin Garth reading the poem, or read it at your own pace below.
“I fear nothing but treachery.” Joan of Arc
A thirteen year old hearing voices in
trees has utilizable qualities:
echoing provincial countryfolk hymn
of virgins resurrecting monarchies.
His miracle — armored, seventeen,
battlefields, Orléans, penetrated by
arrowhead to coronation foreseen
in teenage heads — he will allow to die,
nineteen, a heretic in English flame,
ignore epistolary shame, what’s writ
by Bishop, “monstrous ingratitude,” blamed
on British what her benefactor permits —
Dauphin, whose crown a teenage girl did earn,
just two years later, he will let her burn.
This poem is to commemorate and reflect on Joan of Arc, who was burned at the stake on the 30th of May. Her burning at the stake was not at all prevented by Charles VII, the benefactor of her prophesies and miracles and charisma.
The poem is callled Sacrificial Virgin because one of the reasons the would-be king liked her story is that it fit into the common folklore that a Virgin would deliver France.
“The stakes for women aren’t history when you’re 19 – Bangladesh, Mississippi. They’re testosterone, kerosene =”
The Stakes is a book I was compelled to write after hearing about the burning of Nusrat Jahan Rafi, a 19 year old in Bangladesh burned alive because she reported a teacher for sexual harassment. It reminded me of a case in America, Mississippi of Jessica Chambers, also 19, with more mysterious motives for her burning but a male name uttered from her dying lips.
I’ve always had a primal fear of burning. My father was a firefighter and scared me with stories when I was very young. I read about death at the stake, and the punishment was disproportionately inflicted on women. I wanted to explore the ways in which fire has been used against women, and why, perhaps, I fear it so much. Joan of Arc, who died on the 30th of May 1431, was also coincidentally 19.
The book will be available in 2020 with a press announcement soon.