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VI. Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

He stopped a moment, when her eyes
Met his and grieved to recognize
           The mark of suffering in his face.

With a slow hand, she drew her veil,
Revealed herself, ashamed and pale,
          As if awaiting his embrace.

But he stood, stultified, eyes bloodshot.
She wiped his face, although that could not
           Stitch his ripped brow or salve his pain.

Standing back, then, amid the mob,
She saw the white square had been daubed
          With the pained portrait of his looks,

As if to prove, in every prayer
Our airy words melt at his stare,
           And his words jotted in our books

Are nothing to the fact of flesh,
The thorn-pricked head, the eyes impressed
           Upon a piece of woven cloth.

Think of Bourgeureau’s painted saints,
Their aureoles like pewter plates
           To show, this too is material truth;

For our ideas dissolve in dreams,
Wants change with what the weather brings,
           But his stamped weight of being remains.