evening stroll by Ryki Zuckerman

Joan of Arc Maid of Orleans French National Heroine
Joan of Arc Maid of Orleans French National Heroine
Benouville
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joan of arc exits the painting afterhours*

the hem of her sackcloth skirt
trails the ground;
barefoot, lightly treads
on a carpet of century-old leaves;

at night, she steps out
from the canvas,
pads along on the cold
museum floor.

she exhales a memory of flames,
her arm tired
from holding a branch
day after day,
standing under the tree
where she heard them;

the voices bade her
raise her sword against the british,
but, later, fell silent,
abandoning her
to the whims of bishops,
men inflammed by the simplicity
of her spiritual purity;
or was it the whims of saints?

tracing a path from the leaf in her hand
through the arches of the trees behind her
we see saints catherine, margaret, and michael
hovering in the air above,
luring her from her spinning
with urgent mysteries.

she is poised to leave,
rapt with grace
and angelic vision,
and something more
than the exquisite breath
the artist imbued into her flesh,

her spirit burns, incandescent,
warming the tone of her skin,
flickers with life, so long ago stolen by fire.
she sighs in my ear
and i hear the heartbeat of eternity.

*Joan of Arc, painting by Bastien-Lepage, 1889, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

BIO: Named "poet of the week," in the Sept 2007 issue of Poetry Super Highway, poet and performer Ryki Zuckerman is author of the chapbook,"body of work" (Textile Bridge Press). Her poems have appeared in Black Mountain College II Review, Slipstream, Swift Kick, Monthly Planet, Lips, Escarpments, Paunch, and Pure Light, as well as the Buffalo News and Artvoice. She is editor of Earth's Daughters magazine, and was program coordinator for many years for the NEW - Niagara-Erie Writers. Robert Creeley said of her work: "Ryki Zuckerman practices the lively art of upfront truth-telling with a valid poetic license, viz, she enjoys her work and, if you can open your ears and hear it, so will you." Two of Ryki's poems will be forthcoming in 2008 in Gentle Strength Quarterly.
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