Burning Haibun for Thomas(ine) Hall’s Cross Cloth

By Chris Watkins

                        After torrin a. greathouse  

Sing, godx, of one with many names and forms. Rage for Thomas(ine) Hall, born 1603, Newcastle. Sing of one driven far from home and into war. Sing an epic-sapphic, seraphamic, many-winged song. Sing! Let us learn. Tell how, in those days, comely James I tried to conquer, like a Roman, the entire world. How, when they were 24, Thomas(ine) took a bread knife to their hair and fought in the Anglo-French War. Sing the name Thomas and mean the same. Sing of them marching beside their friends. Sing of fallen bodies in varied forms. And the bullets that are still taking us away. Sing armor over them, over us, like the shining harnois blanc of Joan of Arc. Sing their service done, how they put the name Thomasine back on the way one might tie a girdle tight around the waist, shaping the self. Sing them crafting bone lace to earn a living. How it felt like lily petals in their hands. Sing the time in Plymouth England and hearing of Plymouth Rock, boarding a ship to America and signing the name Thomas again. Rage, godx, that we might envision the invasion of an entire continent. Rage for it is also an invasion to throw someone to the ground, to pull their garments down and say, “This is what you are.” Rage for Thomas(ine) Hall—pawed at in their sleep by three respectable women with clean shifts and scissor clips underneath their petticoats. Rage for the soul is not a medical inspection. Rage for the wrists penned as if for sowing. Rage for Thomas(ine) Hall abused by court order so that everyone might know if they could commit the crime of fornication. Rage for one forced down by two men into the wheel tracks of the street—and this is still happening—rage!—how it happened even after 1629 when the Quarter Court of Virginia declared Thomas(ine) “both a man and a woman” who would “go clothed in man’s apparel, only with a cross cloth on the head and an apron before.” Why does it always take a jury? Rage! Scream, heavens, that even now, we are not safe.


Sing, godx, of one [                                                                                            ] born [
                                                                                   ] into war. Sing [        ] sapphic serapham [

                                                                                                                                                  ] the bullets [                                               ] Sing armor [                              ] like [

                                                                                                                                          ] bone lace [
                                                  ] lily petals [

                                                                                                               ] man’s apparel, only with a cross cloth on the head and an apron before. [                                                               ] Scream, heavens, that even now, we are not safe.


Sing, armor like [ ] bone
lace, [ ] lily [ ] apparel. [ ] Cloth,
[ ] scream [ ] that [ ] we are [ ] safe.

Chris Watkins is a poet and PhD student studying at FSU in Tallahassee, Florida. Their poetry has appeared in Foundry, Crab Orchard Review, and Bosque, among other journals.