Monday, July 5, 2021

Jennifer Lagier

Abelard was a 40-year-old controversial intellectual. Heloise was his 17-year-old student. When their passionate love for each other was discovered by Heloise's uncle, the two were secretly married. To salvage his reputation, Abelard sent Heloise to the Convent of Saint Mary at Argenteuil. Because her uncle believed Abelard was casting off his niece, he took revenge by having Abelard castrated. The pair's subsequent correspondence attests that, through adversities and tragedy, their devotion to each other never faltered. They are now united in side-by-side graves in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.


Beloved, heal the wounds
you have inflicted. Remember,
I was the one who refused to lie,
rejected wedlock for freedom.

Destroyed myself at your command,
changed open doors for sealed convent
simply to prove you the sole possessor
of my heart, soul, and will.

You who lavish time
on proud disbelievers,
consider your growing debt
to the neglected faithful.

My broken spirit is a weak plantation
sown with tender, ailing plants
that require nourishing sun,
your careful attention.

Treachery robbed me of myself
in robbing me of you.
I fear nothing more than barren silence,
this claustrophobic sentence I am now serving.

Only letters provide a lingering hint
of your long-absent presence,
vague words that can still caress,
despite the malice of others.

Jennifer's YouTube video reading of "Heloise's Epistle":

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JENNIFER LAGIER has published nineteen books, in a variety of anthologies and literary magazines, taught with California Poets in the Schools, edits the Monterey Review, helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Her recent books include: Meditations on Seascapes and Cypress (Blue Light Press) and COVID Dissonance (CyberWit).

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