Mrs. Smith, Burned for Praying in Her Own Language
Renee Emerson

Mrs. Smith, Burned for Praying in Her Own Language

My longing for God is a rustle of paper
in my jacket; held by the elbow,
I’m turned back toward the trial,
where once they spared me only
for being a woman.

I am learning how to watch
a body turn to ash; my children gather
around the hearth to learn the word
of God in a language anyone can speak.

From the pyre, I tell the judge
there is more than one kind of fire.
I tell him I am already burning.

Renee Emerson

is the author of Threshing Floor (Jacar Press, 2016) and of Keeping Me Still (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014), a finalist for the Jacar Press Julie Suk Award for Best Poetry Book Published by an Independent Press in 2014. She currently resides in Arkansas with her husband and daughters.