(Shroud of Turin)

They must have bled as they sang,
the needles so quick through

the linen, the frayed mesh,
the silvers must have stung them.

Pinpricks they must have stemmed
with their tongues, unembarrassed,

these brides of Christ-
like sewing patches of sunlight

to water--the ghost in the cloth
laid double across their laps.

These are the hips of Christ,
knees raw bone inking the linen;

this, the stain of a coin
that graced His eye, the image

as yet unpatterned, available only--
should they dare to look--

in random angles, stitches.
Terrible gash at a medial rib.

Imprint: sole of His foot,
the other merely heel, curve of

a branch at its one end blackened,
released to ash-their

fingers as furious as sparks
in the medieval dusk

repairing a fire . . . They must have
wept as they bled as they sang.

Reprinted with permission by the University of Akron Press. Copyright © 2000. All rights reserved.