Sts. Catherine and Margaret, with St. Joan of Arc

Catholic Poetry Room
This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by James Scannell McCormick.

Sts. Catherine and Margaret, with St. Joan of Arc
Domrémy, 1425

I saw them well enough to know that they are saints in Paradise.*

She’d bribed the forgetful sexton: fresh galettes
To remember the bell at noon. This muggy day
In July, he does. As he rings, she pauses to pray
Her Aves between unweeded furrows set

With cabbage, floppy leeks – she begins to hear
Their voices: sweet and soft, and speaking well
And fairly. She turns as the world becomes a swell,
A surge of light, and within that light they appear:

I saw them as clearly as I see you, she’ll explain
Later. They’ll leave, and how she’ll weep and ache
To follow! But first the bidding of God: To take
Back the forsaken lands of France – regain

The Crown – drive out the infesting English, dead
To heaven. To trust her martyred guides. To tell
What she herself is being told – as well
As to lead where she herself is being led.

*Italicized phrases are direct quotes from St. Joan’s trial.

James Scannell McCormick teaches college English in Rochester, Minnesota. His third collection of poems is First of Pisces (Kelsay Press, 2020).

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