The Executioner Geoffroy Therage Repents for Burning Joan of Arc by Adam Tavel

We raked the hissing scoriae of bone
the pyre left to make both friars gag.
Her form ascended not on ropes of smoke
to leave the stake to blaze alone and yet
we boiled her cartilage to show the crowd
no bundled peasant apron could ferry
some relic back to Domrémy. Not we.
Was I, unaided, whose cupped gloves cast
her ashes to the Seine and wandered down
Mathilda’s planks to drown myself in mead.
What grace is there to know and hold a saint
whose ashes bless the ghosts that guide the breeze?
At close the publican flings me at the dawn
to gleam the locket chain that greens my neck.
Adam Tavel received the 2010 Robert Frost Award and is the author of The Fawn Abyss (Salmon, forthcoming) and the chapbook Red Flag Up (Kattywompus). His recent poems appear or will soon appear in The Massachusetts Review, Quarterly West, Passages North, Southern Indiana Review, Salamander, and Crab Orchard Review, among others. He is an associate professor of English at Wor-Wic Community College on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.