One year Marie gave up TV for Lent. If Jesus Christ could bear His cross, then kite on it three hours so we’d repent, sacrifice in return was merely right. I swore off sweets, only to break my fast with thieved chocolate, watching Lord of the Flies, a film exposing my black soul. Aghast, I rushed to my sister’s room for advice. She was asleep, my parents too. Spilling from the TV, English schoolboy savages marched the house, whetted for blood and killing. I screamed for Jesus. But His ravages snared Him, like a film, in cruel depiction— as if it were my own crucifixion.
Veronica. Her name rolled off my tongue. Like water. For one moment my thirst ceased, her lovely apron over my eyes flung in the manner a disquieted beast is comforted in a floodtide or blaze. Shy, she led me as though asleep in dray, whispering and shushing me into place. In the buckram my face had come away. Not young and virile, the eyes Nordic blue as in all the portraits I countenance where I am a mask of flaxen virtue and even my wounds are diaphanous; but swart, bloody, scourged, half-mad, spike-nimbus— Yeats' clairvoyant beast, slouched, androgynous.