Issue 1
Spring and the Spirit of Saint Joan

Spring and the Spirit of Saint Joan

In that rushing, animate place
where Saint Joan bent and sipped
from the river, illiterate but immense
peasant girl with her mystic banner,
I bent down, as if to grasp
the gadabout current’s force, the dauntless
horses of her ambition—

An unnerving surfeit of storm-ridden,
harridan days in Burgundy
tested the shut-in villagers’
roughhewn souls and stamina,
but winter’s fierce marathon
was nothing compared to the grieving mind’s
marksmanship, the flummoxed heart’s
quest. In that Norse-cold,
unremitting kingdom, hungry for light,
avid for crocuses, I could have used
the girl-dressed-as-a-man’s
clear-eyed faith and helmet—

Dear armored dreamer,
I thought I couldn’t bear
another scourging rain,
another friend’s death,

but here are the late-arriving leaves
emblazoning the prayer-path,
the conspicuous blossoms
in the priest’s unhampered orchard

crowding my vision all at once—

Cyrus Cassells is the author of several books of poetry, including The Crossed-Out Swastika, which was a finalist for the Balcones Prize for Best Poetry Book of 2012. Among his honors are a Lannan Literary Award, a Lamba Literary Award, and the William Carlos Williams Award. He teaches at Texas State University and lives in Austin.