Today's poem is by Ellen McGrath Smith

A Local Joan of Arc,

stunned by sinlessness,
walks a country road past midnight.

Voices say God set the curtains on fire
that she might go forth, pull the animals out
of the brush on both sides of the road
and raise armies of them-opossum,
raccoon, groundhog, all the smaller ones
fed to the fierce tires, the mean grilles
of pick-up trucks, boys whose veins throb
with whatever they're using tonight.

Not far now: the walls of the city, lit up
perpetual twenty-four-seven—
the fortress—the place for reclaiming,
for cigarettes, sentries of gas pumps,
sweet and sour relics,
warm unblinking urns.

The animals move in her pockets, her armor.
She's never known man; if she has, she's
stood off from their pumping
and dogged but brief

For there is a king that she needs
to restore. Some have called him her father,
but that is impossible; that man's in jail.
But the man who put the needle in her arm
that first night, he spoke of his plan
for a peaceable kingdom.

By dawn, she is waiting, with just a few others,
for the sun-colored juice that tames the small
animals—noblest cause there can be.

Copyright © 2016 Ellen McGrath Smith All rights reserved
from Nobody's Jackknife
West End Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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