Holy Week poems 1. Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
by Sr Ann Catherine Swailes
There is an ancient legend that identifies Veronica, who comforted Jesus on the way to Calvary, with the woman whom he healed of a haemorrhage earlier in His ministry.
Salted with grains of blood his cheek
Pearls flung from the crazy crown
That jaunts on his burning, sweat-thatched head
Through the leering, holy-day town:
The dizzy clang of the soldiers, and the jerky falling down
Like a broken doll in the dust, and the spit and the slime.
And time pleats back like a robe and I gasp and I bow
To the stench and the shame and the sting
Of other blood, in another crowd,
In another, simpler spring.
In that hidden, stagnant place, I feel the kick and the dance
Of pattering mercy, quickening grace, my unpractised fingers glance
At his shining, tattered face, and fast
I hold, as shielding him, lulling him then,
comfort-clothed in Jerusalem:
I stand tall, a mother at last.