Where Stood a Stake

               In the square in Rouen,
the site of Joan’s immolation,
limestone slabs interleave with moss,
edge a bed of lilies.
A church adjacent to this, the square

               where heretics anquished,
has the shape of a dragon—
a meditation in stucco & stone
for what man must overcome.
Surrounding the square’s slight elevation

               are cement benches, low walls of stone.
Teens come here to test their mettle,
tumbling nimbly across abutments,
jumping over recumbent elder tourists
contemplating Joan’s agonies.

               They munch a local confection
advertised as Joan’s Tears.
In baggy sweatpants, the boys
strut & preen like pigeon cocks,
taking their running tumbles,

               then bouncing upright,
searching the girls’ faces for approval.
The girls, cross-legged in the shade,
seem content in their smiles, at one
with their calling as ministers to men.

Robert Eastwood

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