Joan of Irak


Of them, not with them, set apart by faith I observe
the ring of excited faces. Spellbound, eyes wide open, they anticipate my fate.
Senses heightened, my ears hear the faint crackle as unlit tinder starts to catch,
a faint whoosh as the fire takes hold.
Wisps of smoke rise
tickle my throat
sting my eyes
Tears run down my cheeks as the assault on my senses begins.

The circle of faces grow ghostlike behind the folding curtain
of smothering smoke; watery vision.
Expectant looks now distant, drowned in smoke and tears.
A distorted veil of grey.

Wrists feel the chaffing twine, the rough stake. Edacious flickering flame
creeps and licks around my feet. A deadly kiss.
Yet in my moment of ecstasy I am oblivious
to pain. Ears closed to the shouts and jeers.
My being soon to be consumed by eternal flame.
A willing sacrifice,
prepared for paradise.


With them, not of them. Set apart by faith. I quietly observe
the circle of excited faces as, eyes wide open, they anticipate the day.
My rucksack feels weightless. In my moment of ecstasy
I have no fear. My fingers clasp the catch, sweat stings
my eyes as I touch the rough twine that when pulled
will deliver my gift. Our end will be swift. A sacrificial lamb
prepared for paradise.

-- Georges de Bernard, 2006