Sally Carr, Veronica's veil, poesia, 2007, Wiltshire, Regno Unito.

Veronica’s veil

More challenging than The Shroud
this transient visage
(it vanishes when held to daylight)
has a photographic effect:
eyes open, apprehending.
Its imprint on the scrap of fabric
can’t be explained but tests
have revealed the cloth to be byssus,
a snow-white flax from Egypt
grown for the pharaohs
and used for winding-sheets.
The Pope will have a decision to make.

Willing adherents, searching out
new miracles, arrive by the coachload.
But how is he to say if it’s authentic
and what does ‘authentic’ mean
when it comes to faith? Such
are a pontiff’s day-to-day tussles.
If he declares the veil to be ‘genuine’,
is he a fool or a saint? You could say
he’s in a bind… Undoubtedly
the newspaper image of an image of a face
has an unsettling appeal:
lips just parted, eyes fixing you,
daring you – whatever the Pope’s verdict –
to drop everything and follow.

Sally Carr


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