New Boots (Slight Retread): Peter Armstrong

from The Gallery of Miraculous Foresight

The Last Days of St Thérèse
Paul Gauguin

she lies stiffly on her bed
the whole room tilting
so we look down
as she looks up
at no object we
or any there assembled
in the cell
can see

Her sisters
kneel as stiffly
as she lies
since there is no cure

Her window
opens on a garden
whose fruits are falling
on bare ground


From the Accompanying Notes

I am stretched on iron spikes
If this is the agony
then what is death?

The flies tormented her
but she would not kill
I always give them freedom
They alone
have caused me misery
in my sickness
I have no enemies
and since God
recommends we pardon them
I’m happy for the gift
of doing so

I write
whatever comes
into my empty pen

Her head fell back on the pillow
and was turned toward the right


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