In the hush of my father’s house,
before dusk rustles over the horizon,
I take off the dress my mother made
-it’s as ruby red as St Michael’s cloak-
and with a stitch of linen, bind my breasts.
By the greasy light of a candle,
I shear my hair to the style of a boy,
in the looking glass I see my girlhood
swallowed up in a tunic and pants,
I lace them tightly to safeguard myself.
My soldiers call me ‘Pucelle’, maiden,
they cleave the suit of armour to my body,
and know when following my banner
over ramparts into Orléans, that
there will only ever be one like me.
When the pyre flames fly up my legs,
I do not think of the Dauphin,
or my trial as a heretical pretender,
but see my mother, head bent low,
sewing a red dress for her daughter to wear.
La Pucelle is © Nuala Ní Chonchúir
Tatoo: Tatú, le Nuala Ní Chonchuir, Arlen House, 2007.