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Therese of Lisieux, or St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (January 2, 1873 - September 30, 1897), a French Carmelite nun. The widespread influence and popularity of her autobiography, 'Story of a Soul,' resulted in her canonization on 17 May 1925, by Pope Pius XI, only 28 years after her death.
Thérèse

 

I

first entrant of a new day a guiding tour lumbers into life and makes me jump

this house knows where I am both leads and follows me about feeds bilingual

enlightenment through the fretwork of old speakers in the corner of each room

let there be a nun behind a door keeping an eye on the CCTV and pressing play

 

II

little girl too little

little problem a little word

little sister littlest sister

little Joan of Arc little dramas

little smile little flower

this little light

these little bones

the little ways

 

III

a childhood behind glass

the Noah’s Ark of a future saint

some other toys some other stories

 

IV

her hair scraped up and shining like bread

she looks out sideways from the photograph

soft and fierce and lost and proud and

finding ways to hide

 

V

a painted line on the pavement

like a service line or a single yellow

I walk your last walk from Les Buissonnets

past the playgrounds and high street clothes shops

past the brass plaques of notaries and shrinks

through Lisieux to the Carmel

 

one day in April aged fifteen

to be with your sisters

you leave and go

 

VI

the staircase is closed to the newborn baby

a blind and downy squab cannot be made to fly

she prays and prays for impenitent killer Henri Pranzini

and pictures as she does the steady rise

of the brand new elevator

at the department store

 

VII

I am at home and far from home

far out on a precipice of pain

one of the birds I used to nurse then bury

and you didn’t want me

to see you like that

just as I don’t want you

to see me like this

 

preferring the shroud

to your watchful eye

in that moment

 

but on the far side

of that moment

is release

 

mother, I’m here

 

 

© Emma Page

Picture 10800086, unattributed photograph, circa 1890s

 

 

Emma Page was born in Yorkshire. She studied English at Oxford in the early nineties and English in Education at King’s College London ten years later, writing her MA dissertation on the out-of-school personal and creative writing practices of secondary school students. Emma has lived in south-east London for the past eighteen years. She’s an experienced English teacher who currently works as an education writer, private tutor and writing coach. Her writing is inspired by many things including her experiences as a mother, the arts, nature and environmental issues, and her longstanding interest in juvenilia and the creativity of children. Her poetry has appeared in print in Poetry London (ed. Colette Bryce) and The Best British Poetry 2011 (ed. Roddy Lumsden), and in the online journals Berfrois and iamb. She is currently working on a novel for children, and towards her first poetry pamphlet.